Background The myeloproliferative neoplasms, essential thrombocytosis, polycythemia vera and primary myelofibrosis, share the same acquired genetic lesion, but the concept of JAK2 V617F serving as the sole lesion responsible for these neoplasms is under question, and there has been interest in identifying additional mutations that may contribute to disease pathogenesis. Because ASXL1 lesions have been increasingly identified in myeloid neoplasms, we examined the relationships of ASXL1 mutation or deletion to both clinical ph enotype and associated molecular features in 166 patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms. Design and Methods Exon 12 of ASXL1 was amplified from neutrophil genomic DNA and bidirectionally sequenced in 77 patients with myelofibrosis (including patients with primary and post-essential thrombocytosis or post-polycythemia myelofibrosis), 42 patients with polycythemia vera, 41 with essential thrombocytosis and 6 with post-myelofibrosis acute myeloid leukemia. Pyrosequencing assays were designed to determine the allele percentages of JAK2 V617F (G5073770T), ASXL1 2475dupA, and ASXL1 2846_2847del in neutrophil genomic DNA samples. Clinical and laboratory characteristics of patients with wild-type and ASXL1 mutations were then compared. Results We identified nonsense mutations or hemizygous deletion of ASXL1 in 36% of the patients with myelofibrosis, but very rarely among those with polycythemia vera or essential thrombocytosis. Among the patients with myelofibrosis, those with ASXL1 lesions were not distinguished from their wild-type counterparts with regard to JAK2 V617F status, exposure to chemotherapy or evolution to leukemia. Myelofibrosis patients with ASXL1 lesions were more likely to have received anemia-directed therapy compared to those without lesions [15/26 (58%) versus 11/39 (23%); P=0.02]. Using serial banked samples and quantitative ASXL1 mutant allele burden assays, we observed the acquisition and accumulation of ASXL1 mutations over time in two patients with post-essential thrombocytosis myelofibrosis. Conclusions ASXL1 haploinsufficiency is associated with a myelofibrosis phenotype in the context of other known and unknown lesions, and disruption of ASXL1 function may contribute to the disease pathogenesis of myelofibrosis.
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