Clonal evolution is believed to be a main driver for progression of various types of cancer and implicated in facilitating resistance to drugs. However, the hierarchical organization of malignant clones in the hematopoiesis of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and its impact on response to drug therapy remain poorly understood. Using high-throughput sequencing of patient and xenografted cells we evaluated the intratumoral heterogeneity in n=54 and reconstructed mutational trajectories in n=39 patients suffering from MDS (n=52) and CMML-1 (n=2). We identified linear but also branching evolution paths and confirmed on a patient-specific level that somatic mutations in epigenetic regulators and RNA splicing genes frequently constitute isolated disease-initiating events. Using high-throughput exome- and/or deep-sequencing we analyzed 103 chronologically acquired samples from 22 patients covering a cumulative observation time of 75 years MDS disease progression. Our data revealed highly dynamic shaping of complex oligoclonal architectures specifically upon treatment with lenalidomide and other drugs. Despite initial clinical response to treatment, patients' marrow persistently remained clonal with rapid outgrowth of founder-, sub- or even fully independent clones indicating an increased dynamic rate of clonal turnover. The emergence and disappearance of specific clones frequently correlated with changes of clinical parameters highlighting their distinct and far-reaching functional properties. Intriguingly, increasingly complex mutational trajectories are frequently accompanied by clinical progression during the course of disease. These data substantiate a need for regular broad molecular monitoring to guide clinical treatment decisions in MDS.
- myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)