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2022 Global Transcriptional States of Follicular Lymphoma B Cells Highlight Distinct Groups of Tumor Identity Associated with Somatic Alterations and Tumor Microenvironment

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 621. Lymphoma—Genetic/Epigenetic Biology: Poster II
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Follicular Lymphoma, Adult, Diseases, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Biological Processes, white blood cells, Technology and Procedures, Cell Lineage, Lymphoid Malignancies, Study Population, genomics, genetic profiling, inflammation, NGS, microenvironment, RNA sequencing, pathogenesis, pathways
Sunday, December 6, 2020, 7:00 AM-3:30 PM

Jordan Krull, BS1,2, Kerstin Wenzl, PhD1, Michelle Manske, MS, BS1*, Melissa Hopper, MSc1*, Melissa C. Larson, MS3*, Vivekananda Sarangi4*, Matthew J. Maurer, MS3, Zhi-Zhang Yang, PhD1, Lisa M. Rimsza, MD5, Brian K. Link, MD6, Thomas M. Habermann, MD1, Stephen M. Ansell, MD, PhD1, Rebecca L. King, MD7, James R. Cerhan, MD, PhD1,3 and Anne J. Novak, PhD1

1Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
2Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Rochester, MN
3Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
4Mayo Clinic, Rochester
5Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ
6Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Blood & Marrow Transplantation, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
7Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Background: Follicular Lymphoma (FL) is the second most common non-Hodgkin lymphoma and presents with significant clinical, cellular, molecular, and genetic heterogeneity. Despite the name and defining microanatomic location, the genetic and molecular identity and pathogenesis of the FL tumor cell is largely uncharacterized. Prior clinical and molecular classifications of FL have been primarily driven by pathologic classification (Grade 1-3b), genetic classification (M7-FLIPI), or gene expression profiling (IR-1/2). Using a unique cohort of 93 FL tumors, we have explored the transcriptomic signature of purified FL B cells, along with their matched whole tumor, and identified unique molecular subsets which are defined by distinct pathway activation, immune content, and genomic signatures identified through whole exome sequencing (WES).

Methods: Frozen tumor biopsies from 93 untreated FL (Grade 1-3b) patients enrolled in the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic Lymphoma SPORE were used for the study. DNA was isolated from whole tumor cell suspensions and RNA was isolated from both whole tumor and B cell enriched cell suspensions. RNA sequencing (RNAseq) and WES was performed in the Mayo Clinic Genome Analysis Core. RNAseq and WES data were processed using the Mayo Clinic standard pipeline and novel driver genes were identified using 20/20+ driver analysis. Copy number variants were identified using GISTIC 2.0. NMF clustering and single sample gene set testing, for B cell lineage and tumor microenvironment (TME) signatures, was performed in R using the NMF and SingScore packages.

Results: NMF consensus clustering of FL B cell RNAseq data identified two distinct subsets, C1 (n=32) and C2 (n=57). Clinically, C1 was associated with being FL grade 3 (p<0.001) and more aggressive therapy (e.g. immunochemotherapy) at diagnosis while other clinical factors were similar between the groups. To determine the biologic underpinnings that drove the NMF analysis, the top NMF metagenes were incorporated (n=389 for C1 and n=293 for C2) for GO analysis. Among those genes were AICDA, IRF4, and EZH2 in C1, and BCL2 in C2. Additionally, we identified significant gene set enrichment with NMF metagenes and calculated differential gene set expression comparing C1, C2, and normal B cells (n=5). Together, these analyses suggest C1 displays significantly (p<0.05) enhanced DNA replication and metabolic activity, whereas C2 displays significantly enhanced cytoskeleton rearrangement, repressed inflammatory cytokine signaling, and NF-kB activity. Based on recent scRNAseq data suggesting that FL derives from distinct germinal center B cells, the B lineage difference between C1 and C2 was explored. Both subgroups were heterogeneous for dark (DZ), intermediate (INT), light (LZ) zones, and plasmablast (PBL) gene signatures. When compared to benign B cell samples, C1 was enriched for a pre-PBL (p<0.01), and C2 for an INT phenotype related to a LZ signature (p<0.01). To define if a genomic signature was associated with C1 and C2, mutations and copy number variants (>5% frequency) were examined. TNFAIP3, TP53, and BCL6 alterations were enriched in C1 samples, whereas C2 associated with alterations in BCL2, KMT2D, CREBBP, REL, and MYC. Finally, B cell clusters were analyzed for TME signatures. C1 samples displayed significant enrichment of macrophage, cytotoxic cell, gamma-delta-Tcell, and endothelial cell TME elements (p<0.05) consistent with an inflamed/hot tumor. In contrast, C2 samples exhibited significantly lower signatures (p<0.05) in all entities except for the fibroblast signature, compared to C1 and normal, consistent with an immune desert phenotype.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that B cells from FL patients display two distinct transcriptomic signatures. C1 identifies an immunologically active tumor, driven by TNFAIP3 alterations, with pre-PBL characteristics, DNA replication and repair, inflammatory cytokine secretion/signaling, and hyper-metabolic characteristics. C2 identifies an immunologically quiet tumor, driven by alterations in BCL2 and chromatin modifiers, with an intermediate GC phenotype, repressed cytokine signaling, and active cell cycle progression and cytoskeleton rearrangement. This study improves our understanding of the mechanisms driving FL tumors and motivates further investigation into the relationship between tumor intrinsic factors that may influence the TME.

Disclosures: Maurer: Celgene / BMS: Research Funding; Pfizer: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Nanostring: Research Funding; Morphosys: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; Kite: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Genentech: Research Funding. Ansell: ADC Therapeutics: Research Funding; Trillium: Research Funding; Affimed: Research Funding; Regeneron: Research Funding; AI Therapeutics: Research Funding; Takeda: Research Funding; Seattle Genetics: Research Funding; Bristol Myers Squibb: Research Funding. Cerhan: NanoString: Research Funding; BMS/Celgene: Research Funding. Novak: Celgene/BMS: Research Funding.

*signifies non-member of ASH