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1340 Increased DNA Repair Gene Expression Correlates with MYC Expression and Inferior Progression-Free Survival in Multiple Myeloma Patients

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 651. Myeloma: Biology and Pathophysiology, excluding Therapy: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Biological Processes, DNA repair
Saturday, December 5, 2020, 7:00 AM-3:30 PM

Karen Sweiss, PharmD1, Benjamin G Barwick, PhD2, Gregory Sampang Calip, PharmD, MPH, PhD3*, Damiano Rondelli, MD4, Craig C Hofmeister, MD, MPH5 and Pritesh Patel, MB, ChB4

1Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Illinois, Hinsdale, IL
2Winship Cancer Institute / Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
3Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
4Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
5Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

High dose melphalan and autologous stem cell transplantation is standard of care for the upfront treatment of multiple myeloma (MM). Several studies have shown upregulation of single DNA repair genes and whole DNA repair pathways as associated with melphalan resistance and poor outcomes after ASCT. Here we set out to identify the most important DNA repair enzymes and pathways to predict outcomes after ASCT using the MMRF CoMMpass dataset but instead found DNA repair gene expression to be a poor prognostic feature regardless of treatment.

Of the 561 MM patients who received ASCT as part of frontline therapy, 378 (67%) patients had whole transcriptome sequencing data available for analysis in this study. The majority of patients in this cohort received a 3-drug novel agent-based regimen for first line treatment. We selected 81 genes of known function related to DNA damage repair across multiple pathways. Using the median mRNA expression as cutoff for each gene, we first compared PFS for high vs. low expressers and found 38 genes in non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), homologous recombination (HR), nucleotide excision repair (NER), base excision repair (BER) and Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway which predicted for inferior survival with higher expression (p≤0.05). We subsequently analyzed each gene individually in a multivariate Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for known prognostic and treatment-related factors (age, gender, race, ISS stage, LDH, normal/abnormal cytogenetics, high risk FISH/cytogenetics, cycles to first response, frontline treatment, and time to transplant) and found that 9 genes retained significance including 3 genes in NHEJ (POLL, PRKDC, NHEJ1), 3 in FA pathway (BRIP1, RMI1, FANCE) and 3 in MMR (MLH3, MSH2 and PMS1). In addition, increased pathway level gene overexpression for NHEJ (p=0.02) and MMR (0.009) pathways conferred worse PFS. Genes involved in NER did not retain significance despite this pathway being involved with repair of melphalan-induced bulky adducts formation. Additionally, high MMR pathway expression was significant despite this pathway not having a known role in repair of melphalan-induced DNA damage. To validate the specific importance of these genes in predicting response to ASCT, we tested whether high expression predicted outcomes in patients who did not undergo ASCT.

In 387 non-ASCT patients with whole transcriptome sequencing available, NHEJ and MMR gene expression were significant predictors of PFS confirming that this finding was not specific to patients undergoing ASCT. We next correlated the expression of NHEJ and MMR genes and found significant co-expression of these genes (r=0.55-0.8), suggesting a common mediator leading to global upregulation of DNA repair. As increased MYC activity is a common finding in MM and is a master regulator of transcription, we hypothesized the DNA damage repair genes were upregulated by increased MYC activity. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis of hallmark gene sets confirmed that patients with increased DNA repair were also enriched for MYC targets (FDR=0.0063). Based on this, we hypothesized that oncogene-mediated constitutive DNA damage and replication stress (RS) are a hallmark of high risk and aggressive myeloma.

Here we present novel findings to show that global DNA repair upregulation occurs in high risk disease as evidenced by the inferior PFS. We hypothesize that this could be attributed to MYC-related increased gene transcription resulting in DNA damage and RS which in turn recruits several DNA repair pathways. These specific DNA repair pathways and signal activation pathways involved with replication stress represent novel therapeutic targets in myeloma.

Disclosures: Calip: Flatiron Health: Current Employment. Hofmeister: Sanofi: Honoraria, Research Funding; Bristol Myers Squibb: Honoraria, Research Funding; Nektar: Honoraria, Research Funding; Imbrium: Honoraria; Janssen: Honoraria, Research Funding; Oncopeptides: Honoraria; Karyopharm: Honoraria, Research Funding; Oncolytics Biotech: Research Funding. Patel: Amgen: Consultancy; Celgene: Consultancy; Janssen: Consultancy.

*signifies non-member of ASH