Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is a rare and aggressive stem cell disease of early childhood. RAS activation constitutes the core component of oncogenic signaling. In addition, leukemic blasts in one-fourth of JMML patients present with monosomy 7, and more than half of patients show elevated age-adjusted fetal hemoglobin (HbF) levels. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the current standard of care and results in an event-free survival rate of 50% to 60%, indicating that novel molecular-driven therapeutic options are urgently needed. Using gene expression profiling in a series of 82 patient samples, we aimed at understanding the molecular biology behind JMML and identified a previously unrecognized molecular subgroup characterized by high LIN28B expression. LIN28B over expression was significantly correlated with higher HbF levels, whereas patients with monosomy 7 seldom showed enhanced LIN28B expression. This finding gives a biological explanation of why patients with monosomy7 are rarely diagnosed with high age-adjusted HbF levels. In addition, this new fetal-like JMML subgroup presented with reduced levels of most members of the let-7 microRNA family and showed characteristic overexpression of genes involved in fetal hematopoiesis and stem cell self-renewal. Lastly, high LIN28B expression was associated with poor clinical outcome in our JMML patient series but was not independent from other prognostic factors such as age and age-adjusted HbF levels. In conclusion, we identified elevated LIN28B expression as a hallmark of a novel fetal-like subgroup in JMML.

doi.org/10.1182/blood-2015-09-667808, hdl.handle.net/1765/83935
Department of Pediatrics

Helsmoortel, H. H., Bresolin, S., Lammens, T., Cavé, H., Noellke, P., Caye, A., … de Moerloose, B. (2016). LIN28B overexpression defines a novel fetal-like subgroup of juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia. Blood, 127(9), 1163–1172. doi:10.1182/blood-2015-09-667808