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Haematologica ; 104(3): 576-586, 2019 03.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30262568


Mutations in genes of the RAS-BRAF-MAPK-ERK pathway have not been fully explored in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. We, therefore, analyzed the clinical and biological characteristics of chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients with mutations in this pathway and investigated the in vitro response of primary cells to BRAF and ERK inhibitors. Putative damaging mutations were found in 25 of 452 patients (5.5%). Among these, BRAF was mutated in nine patients (2.0%), genes upstream of BRAF (KITLG, KIT, PTPN11, GNB1, KRAS and NRAS) were mutated in 12 patients (2.6%), and genes downstream of BRAF (MAPK2K1, MAPK2K2, and MAPK1) were mutated in five patients (1.1%). The most frequent mutations were missense, subclonal and mutually exclusive. Patients with these mutations more frequently had increased lactate dehydrogenase levels, high expression of ZAP-70, CD49d, CD38, trisomy 12 and unmutated immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable region genes and had a worse 5-year time to first treatment (hazard ratio 1.8, P=0.025). Gene expression analysis showed upregulation of genes of the MAPK pathway in the group carrying RAS-BRAF-MAPK-ERK pathway mutations. The BRAF inhibitors vemurafenib and dabrafenib were not able to inhibit phosphorylation of ERK, the downstream effector of the pathway, in primary cells. In contrast, ulixertinib, a pan-ERK inhibitor, decreased phospho-ERK levels. In conclusion, although larger series of patients are needed to corroborate these findings, our results suggest that the RAS-BRAF-MAPK-ERK pathway is one of the core cellular processes affected by novel mutations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, is associated with adverse clinical features and could be pharmacologically inhibited.