BACKGROUND: Patients with hematological malignancies (HMs) carry a wide range of chromosomal and molecular abnormalities that impact their prognosis and treatment. Since no current technique can detect all relevant abnormalities, technique(s) are chosen depending on the reason for referral, and abnormalities can be missed. We tested targeted transcriptome sequencing as a single platform to detect all relevant abnormalities and compared it to current techniques.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We performed RNA-sequencing of 1385 genes (TruSight RNA Pan-Cancer, Illumina) in bone marrow from 136 patients with a primary diagnosis of HM. We then applied machine learning to expression profile data to perform leukemia classification, a method we named RANKING. Gene fusions for all the genes in the panel were detected, and overexpression of the genes EVI1, CCND1, and BCL2 was quantified. Single nucleotide variants/indels were analyzed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome and patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) using a virtual myeloid (54 genes) or lymphoid panel (72 genes).
RESULTS: RANKING correctly predicted the leukemia classification of all AML and ALL samples and improved classification in 3 patients. Compared to current methods, only one variant was missed, c.2447A>T in KIT (RT-PCR at 10(-4)), and BCL2 overexpression was not seen due to a t(14; 18)(q32; q21) in 2% of the cells. Our RNA-sequencing method also identified 6 additional fusion genes and overexpression of CCND1 due to a t(11; 14)(q13; q32) in 2 samples.
CONCLUSIONS: Our combination of targeted RNA-sequencing and data analysis workflow can improve the detection of relevant variants, and expression patterns can assist in establishing HM classification.