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1091 Germline Variants Associated with Cancer Predisposition and Bone Marrow Failure Are Common in KMT2A-r Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Patients

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 618. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Biology, Cytogenetics, and Molecular Markers in Diagnosis and Prognosis: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Clinically relevant
Saturday, December 5, 2020, 7:00 AM-3:30 PM

Sarah Mc Dermott, DO1, Midhat S. Farooqi, MD, PhD2,3*, Azhar Saeed, MD4*, Byunggil Yoo, MS2*, Emily Farrow, PhD, CGC2*, Neil Miller2*, Patrick A. Brown, MD5 and Erin Guest, MD1

1Division of Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplantation, Children's Mercy, Kansas City, MO
2Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine, Children's Mercy, Kansas City, MO
3Department of Pathology, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, Kansas City, MO
4University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS
5Division of Pediatric Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD


Infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), is a particularly aggressive subtype of leukemia with an early onset and unfavorable clinical outcome. Most (~70%) cases of infant ALL involve chromosomal rearrangement of KMT2A (KMT2A- r) on chromosome 11q23, the strongest independent predictor of a poor prognosis. To date, genomics studies have consistently demonstrated KMT2A-r infant ALL to have a strikingly silent landscape of DNA mutations, aside from the KMT2A-r itself. Germline mutations in cancer predisposition genes are found in 8.6% of pediatric malignancies and 4.4% of pediatric leukemias, compared to 1.1% in persons in the 1000 Genomes Project (Zhang J et al., N Engl J Med 2015). We hypothesized that germline variants may contribute to the development of KMT2A-r ALL in infants. We examined the germline variants in remission blood samples from a large cohort of infants with KMT2A-r ALL who were enrolled in Children’s Oncology Group (COG) trial AALL15P1.


We performed whole genome sequencing (WGS) and whole exome sequencing (WES) on DNA isolated from peripheral blood from 36 KMT2A-r cases at time of remission. Sequencing was performed using an Illumina Hiseq 4000 or 2500 to a minimum depth of 90Gb (WGS) and 15Gb (WES). Alignment and variant calling were performed using the Dragon Bio-IT platform (v 3.2.8, Illumina). Blueprint Genetics clinical panels and the medical literature (Xa M et al., Nature 2018) were used to comprise a list of 346 genes associated with cancer predisposition and bone marrow failure syndromes. From this gene pool, variants were selected for analysis based on a variant allele frequency of ~50% and minor allele frequency <0.1% in control population databases (gnomAD). Variants were analyzed for pathogenicity per the 2015 ACMG/AMP interpretation guidelines for sequence variants.


Of 351 variants initially identified, we found 3 likely pathogenic (LP) and 6 pathogenic (P) non-synonymous germline variants (for a total of 9 LP/P variants) and 144 variants of unknown significance (VUS). In total, 19.4% (n=7) of patient samples displayed at least one LP/P variant. Two patient samples contained 2 variants each. Variants classified as VUS, LP, or P were further characterized by possible causative pathway: 37.9% (n=58) of variants were in genes associated with bone marrow failure (BMF), 17.6% (n=27) in driver genes, 13.1% (n=20) in genes associated with inherited leukemias, 11.1% (n=17) in tumor suppressor genes, 7.8% (n=12) in tyrosine kinase genes, and 29.4% (n=45) in other predisposition genes . Many variants were present in more than one pathway and are represented as such. Table 1 demonstrates the genetic characteristics of the 9 P/LP variants found in our cohort. ERCC2 was the only gene with multiple LP/P variants across samples, accounting for 2 (1 LP, 1 P) of the 9 deleterious variants identified (22%).


We identified germline variants in cancer predisposition genes in 19.4% of this cohort of infant ALL patients, a higher mutation rate than has previously been reported. Among pathways evaluated, variants in genes associated with bone marrow failure predisposition were the most frequent. Interestingly, variants in ERCC2, which encodes a protein involved with repair of damaged DNA, were recurrent among infants with KMT2A-r ALL. Future directions include comparison to germline variants in cancer predisposition genes in other infant and non-infant ALL cohorts.

Disclosures: Brown: Novartis: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Jazz: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Servier: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Janssen: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees. Guest: Syndax Pharmaceuticals: Consultancy.

*signifies non-member of ASH