Molecular background delineates outcome of double protein expressor diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
ABSTRACT: Concomitant deregulation of MYC and BCL2 comprises clinically significant, yet poorly characterized biological high-risk feature in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). To interrogate these lymphomas, we analyzed translocations and protein expression of BCL2, BCL6, and MYC; correlated the findings with comprehensive mutational, transcriptomic, and clinical data in 181 patients with primary DLBCL; and validated the key findings in independent data sets. Structural variations of BCL2 were subtype-specific and specifically increased BCL2 expression. Molecular dissection of MYC deregulation revealed associations with other lymphoma drivers, including loss of TP53, and distinctive gene expression profiles. Double protein expression (DPE) arose from heterogeneous molecular backgrounds that exhibited subtype-dependent patterns. In the germinal center B-cell (GCB) DLBCL, concurrent alterations of MYC and BCL2 loci gave rise to the majority of DPE DLBCLs, whereas among the activated B-cell (ABC) DLBCLs, concurrent alterations were infrequent. Clinically, DPE DLBCL defined a prognostic entity, which was independent of the International Prognostic Index (IPI) and cell of origin, and together with the loss of TP53 had a synergistic dismal impact on survival. In the DPE DLBCL, the loss of TP53 was associated with a chemorefractory disease, whereas among the other DLBCLs, no correlation with survival was seen. Importantly, BCL6 translocations identified non-GCB lymphomas with favorable BN2/C1-like survival independent of IPI and concurrent DPE status. Taken together, our findings define molecular characteristics of the DPE in DLBCL, and recognize clinically feasible predictors of outcome. Given the emerging taxonomical significance of BCL2, BCL6, MYC, and TP53, our findings provide further depth and validation to the genomic classification of DLBCL.