The human myeloproliferative disorders: molecular pathogenesis and clonal heterogeneity

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Beer, Philip 

The classical myeloproliferative disorders (MPD), comprising essential thrombocythaemia (ET), polycythaemia vera (PV) and idiopathic myelofibrosis (IMF), are clonal premalignant haematopoietic neoplasms associated with activating mutations in signalling pathway molecules and a variable tendency to develop acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). This thesis examined genotype-phenotype associations of JAK2 and MPL mutations, the presence of clonal diversity in the MPD and the genetic events associated with progressive disease. Mutations in MPL were identified in 4% of ET and 7% of IMF but not in PV. Three different acquired MPL mutations were identified, one of which had been reported as an inherited allele. Although MPL mutations did not delineate a distinct clinical or histopathological subtype of ET, molecular testing provides an important new tool in the diagnostic armamentarium. Clones homozygous for the JAK2 V617F mutation were identified in female but not male patients with ET, suggesting that gender differences may be important in the determination of disease phenotype. In patients with two acquired genetic alterations, a signalling pathway mutation and a cytogenetic abnormality were usually present within the same clone. By contrast, coexistence of two signalling pathway mutations indicated the presence of biclonal disease that in two patients had arisen independently and not from a shared founder clone. RAS mutations were identified as potential cooperating events in patients with JAK2 or MPL mutant IMF. In patients developing AML following a JAK2 V617F-positive MPD, those with V617F-positive leukaemia had progressed via an accelerated phase of disease and harboured acquired alterations of RUNX1 or EVI1. V617F-negative leukaemias tended to follow directly from ET or PV, and loss of the JAK2 mutation by reversion to wild-type due to mitotic recombination, gene deletion or gene conversion was excluded. The thesis concludes with a discussion of how clonal heterogeneity can be integrated into current models of MPD disease pathogenesis.

Myeloproliferative disorder, Myeloid, Leukaemia
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge