Deletions and mutations affecting lymphoid transcription factor IKZF1 (IKAROS) are associated with an increased relapse risk and poor outcome in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. However, additional genetic events may either enhance or negate the effects of IKZF1 deletions on prognosis. In a large discovery cohort of 533 childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients, we observed that single-copy losses of BTG1 were significantly enriched in IKZF1-deleted B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (P=0.007). While BTG1 deletions alone had no impact on prognosis, the combined presence of BTG1 and IKZF1 deletions was associated with a significantly lower 5-year event-free survival (P=0.0003) and a higher 5-year cumulative incidence of relapse (P=0.005), when compared with IKZF1-deleted cases without BTG1 aberrations. In contrast, other copy number losses commonly observed in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia, such as CDKN2A/B, PAX5, EBF1 or RB1, did not affect the outcome of IKZF1-deleted acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients. To establish whether the combined loss of IKZF1 and BTG1 function cooperate in leukemogenesis, Btg1-deficient mice were crossed onto an Ikzf1 heterozygous background. We observed that loss of Btg1 increased the tumor incidence of Ikzf1+/- mice in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, murine B cells deficient for Btg1 and Ikzf1+/- displayed increased resistance to glucocorticoids, but not to other chemotherapeutic drugs. Together, our results identify BTG1 as a tumor suppressor in leukemia that, when deleted, strongly enhances the risk of relapse in IKZF1-deleted B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and augments the glucocorticoid resistance phenotype mediated by the loss of IKZF1 function.

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Journal Haematologica
Grant This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/261474 - EUROPEAN NETWORK for CANCER research in CHILDREN and ADOLESCENTS (ENCCA)
Scheijen, B, Boer, J.M, Marke, R. (René), Tijchon, E. (Esther), van Ingen Schenau, D. (Dorette), Waanders, E, … van Leeuwen, F.N. (2017). Tumor suppressors BTG1 and IKZF1 cooperate during mouse leukemia development and increase relapse risk in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients. Haematologica, 102(3), 541–551. doi:10.3324/haematol.2016.153023