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Whole transcriptome RNA sequencing as comprehensive diagnostic tool for acute myeloid leukemia.

BackgroundAcute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by uncontrolled proliferation of malignant hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow that are arrested in differentiation. In AML pathogenesis, hematopoietic progenitor cells acquire multiple genetic aberrations often occurring in the same set of genes that ultimately lead to malignant transformation. In the WHO classification 2016, six AML classes with different prognosis are identified by chromosomal translocations measured by standard cytogenetics. All balanced translocations produce fusion genes, except for t(3;3)/inv(3;3), which lead to overexpression of MECOM/EVI1 associated with poor prognosis. For accurate risk assessment of cytogenetically normal AML, four genes need to be screened to distinguish AML with mutated NPM1 in the absence of FLT3 mutations and AML with bi-allelic CEBPA mutations, which have a favorable prognosis, and AML with RUNX1 mutations which have a poor prognosis. Recently, a full genomic classification system has been proposed by Papaemmanuil et al. (NEJM 2016). In this system, the same six classes with chromosomal translocations are identified by standard cytogenetics as well as five additional classes characterized by genetic mutations in 14 different genes. AimThe aim of the study was to investigate whether whole transcriptome RNA-sequencing (RNAseq) can be used as single technology for classification of AML. MethodA panel of 100 AML were analyzed and a bio-informatics pipeline called HAMLET (Human AML Expedited Transcriptomics) was developed in which 4 modules are integrated to detect (1) fusion genes, (2) small variants in 13 recurrently mutated genes, (3) internal tandem duplications in FLT3 (FLT3-ITD) and partial tandem duplications in KMT2A (KMT2A-PTD) and (4) overexpression of MECOM/EVI1. All mutations that were called by HAMLET were validated by diagnostic data as available for all 100 AML or targeted PCR followed by Sanger or next generation sequencing on all positive AML and at least an equal number of negative cases. Results & discussionThe data showed that HAMLET accurately identified all genetic aberrations with high sensitivity and specificity. In addition, in 7 AML, fusion transcripts were detected that are not measured by standard cytogenetics including three cases that lack any class-defining lesion according to Papaemmanuil et al. Moreover, overexpression of MECOM/EVI1 was detected in two AML with inv(3) as well as in five cases without inv(3)/t(3;3), and a gene signature was measured to distinguish AML with CEBPA mutations with favorable prognosis. In conclusion, HAMLET provides a comprehensive and flexible pipeline for RNAseq analysis to retrieve all relevant information for current classification of AML as well as additional information that may improve classification in the future.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001004187 Illumina HiSeq 2500 100
Publications Citations
Comprehensive diagnostics of acute myeloid leukemia by whole transcriptome RNA sequencing.
Leukemia 35: 2021 47-61
Novel Diagnostic and Therapeutic Options for <i>KMT2A</i>-Rearranged Acute Leukemias.
Front Pharmacol 13: 2022 749472