Linker histone H1 binds to nucleosomes and causes chromatin compaction, yet little is known about their biologic function. Somatic missense mutations in histone 1 genes (HIST1H1B-E) occur in ~30% of follicular lymphomas and DLBCL, with significant mutual co-occurrence among these alleles, most frequently involving H1C and H1E. Examining whole exomes in 547 DLBCL patients, we found significant enrichment for H1 gene SNVs and copy number loss in the MCD class of ABC-DLBCLs as compared to other subtypes. Next we performed a genetic driver analysis in 101 DLBCLs with matched germline control to identify mutations significantly enriched over background somatic variation. We find that lymphoma-associated H1 alleles H1C and H1E are true genetic driver mutations in lymphomas. Lymphoma H1 mutations affect the H1 globular domain or C-terminus. We found that the globular domain mutants fail to bind to chromatin whereas C-ter mutants fail to compact chromatin as shown by atomic force microscopy, in vitro assembled nucleosome arrays, and FRAP assays in live cells. Hence both types of mutation confer loss of function. Constitutive H1C/E knockout mice are healthy and have no overt phenotype. However, immunization with T cell-dependent antigen caused significant GC hyperplasia (p=0.013) and disruption of polarity due to expansion in the number of centrocytes. Notably, H1C/EDKO GC B-cells readily outcompeted WT GC B-cells in mixed chimera experiments, indicating that they have superior fitness (p=0.0086). We performed RNA-seq in H1C/EDKO GC B-cells, which revealed an aberrant gene derepression signature. Strikingly, these same genes are upregulated during induced pluripotency (iPS cell) reprogramming and are normally silenced during early development by the PRC2 complex (p <0.05 to 1e-05). Indeed, histone mass spectrometry showed reduced H3K27me3 (p=0.0003) and increased H3K36me2 (p =0.001) in H1C/EDKO GC B cells. This prompted us to characterize the epigenome of purified H1C/EDKO vs WT GC B cells using Hi-C, ATAC-seq, and ChIP-seq for multiple histone marks. H1 deficiency causes profound architectural remodeling of the genome characterized by large-scale yet focal compartment shifts from compartment B to compartment A. The degree of decompaction results in distinct epigenetic states, primarily due to gain of H3K36me2 and/or loss of repressive H3K27me3. Strikingly, the H1C/EDKO primitive stem cell gene expression signature was highly significantly enriched (NES 1.24, FDR<0.001) in the RNA-seq profiles of independent cohorts of DLBCL patients with H1C and H1E mutations. We crossed H1C+/-H1E+/- mice with VavP-Bcl2 transgenic mice and observed significant acceleration of lymphomagenesis (p=0.0001). Consistent with acquisition of stem cell characteristics, H1C+/-H1E+/-;VavP-Bcl2 but not VavP-Bcl2 primary lymphoma cells manifested lymphoma-initiating functionality after secondary transplantation into recipient animals.

Citation Format: Nevin Z. Yusufova, Matt Teater, Andreas Kloetgen, Alexey Soshnev, Adewola Osunade, Christopher Chin, Ashley Doane, Louis Staudt, David Scott, Neil Kelleher, Aristotelis Tsirigos, Marcin Imielinski, Yael David, David Allis, Ethel Cesarman, Ari Melnick. Histone 1 deficiency drives lymphoma through disruption of 3D chromatin architecture [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Virtual Meeting: Advances in Malignant Lymphoma; 2020 Aug 17-19. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Blood Cancer Discov 2020;1(3_Suppl):Abstract nr PO-10.