Background: Fusion genes, transcripts, and proteins are key drivers of hematopoietic oncogenesis and can serve as effective therapeutic targets. Among peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs), little is known about fusion genes except for those involving ALK. Discovery of fusion genes may provide therapeutic targets for PTCLs, which have poor outcomes with conventional therapy. We have developed methods for detecting candidate fusions using (1) mate-pair DNA sequencing (MPseq), an approach that spans the entire genome at a fraction of the cost of traditional whole-genome sequencing, and (2) RNA sequencing (RNAseq). Each technique has strengths, limitations, and false discovery rates. Here, we integrated results of both methods to discover and orthogonally validate expressed fusion genes in PTCLs.

Methods: DNA and RNA were extracted from 49 frozen, OCT-embedded clinical PTCL specimens, including 25 anaplastic large cell lymphomas; 16 PTCLs, not otherwise specified; and 8 other PTCLs. MPseq and RNAseq were performed using Illumina library protocols and a HiSeq 2000. Detection of fusion genes and transcripts followed our published methods (Blood 2012;120:2280 and Nucleic Acids Res 2011;39:e100, respectively). Functional annotation of genes involved in fusions was performed using DAVID.

Results: Of 2818 candidate chromosomal rearrangements identified by MPseq and 90 candidate fusion transcripts identified by RNAseq, 45 events were present in both datasets (mean/case, 0.9; range, 0-7). Fusions were inter-chromosomal in 16 and intra-chromosomal in 29. Annotation clusters with the highest enrichment scores related to SH2 domain-containing proteins and tyrosine kinases (including FER and MAP2K3). Seven genes were recurrently involved in fusions, including known fusion partners such as ALK and previously unreported fusion partners such as PPP1R8, a phosphatase inhibitor important for the activity of Polycomb group proteins such as EZH2. Detection of candidate events only by MPseq could be explained in part by breakpoints mapping to non-genic regions (79% of events). Detection only by RNAseq could be explained in part by unannotated transcripts spanning neighboring named genes (median intra-chromosomal distance, 0.09 MB vs. 12.7 MB for intra-chromosomal candidates identified by MPseq; p<0.0001, Wilcoxon test).

Conclusions: Integrated DNA/RNA sequencing is an effective, clinically feasible tool for simultaneous discovery and orthogonal validation of expressed fusion genes. This approach yielded fusions in PTCLs involving genes with key functions in lymphocytes, including novel and recurrent fusions, some of which might be targetable with compounds currently in clinical trial. Candidate intra-chromosomal fusion transcripts not identified by MPseq may represent unrecognized isoforms or the results of novel read-through mechanisms, and merit further study.

Citation Format: Andrew L. Feldman, George Vasmatzis, Yan W. Asmann, Sarah H. Johnson, Bruce W. Eckloff, Sumit Middha, Jaime I. Davila, Paul J. Kurtin, Brian K. Link, Stephen M. Ansell, James R. Cerhan. Integrated DNA/RNA sequencing for discovery and orthogonal validation of expressed fusion genes in peripheral T-cell lymphomas. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2014 Apr 5-9; San Diego, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2014;74(19 Suppl):Abstract nr 5585. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2014-5585