Chronic lymphocytic leukemia: Molecular heterogeneity revealed by high-throughput genomics
Hepatitis C, Chronic
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has been consistently at the forefront of genetic research owing to its prevalence and the accessibility of sample material. Recently, genome-wide technologies have been intensively applied to CLL genetics, with remarkable progress. Single nucleotide polymorphism arrays have identified recurring chromosomal aberrations, thereby focusing functional studies on discrete genomic lesions and leading to the first implication of somatic microRNA disruption in cancer. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has further transformed our understanding of CLL by identifying novel recurrently mutated putative drivers, including the unexpected discovery of somatic mutations affecting spliceosome function. NGS has further enabled in-depth examination of the transcriptional and epigenetic changes in CLL that accompany genetic lesions, and has shed light on how different driver events appear at different stages of disease progression and clonally evolve with relapsed disease. In addition to providing important insights into disease biology, these discoveries have significant translational potential. They enhance prognosis by highlighting specific lesions associated with poor clinical outcomes (for example, driver events such as mutations in the splicing factor subunit gene SF3B1) or with increased clonal heterogeneity (for example, the presence of subclonal driver mutations). Here, we review new genomic discoveries in CLL and discuss their possible implications in the era of precision medicine.