Myelodysplastic syndrome genetics

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Myelodysplastic syndrome is caused by the clonal proliferation of hematopoietic precursors. Inactivation or mutation of tumor supressor gene TP53 leads to leukemic progression of Myelodysplastic syndrome.

Genetics

Abnormality Frequency in MDS
-5/del(5q) 10-20%
+8 10%
-7/del(7q) 5-10%
-Y 10%
17p- 7%
del(20q) 5-6%
t(11q23) 5-6%
complex karyotype 10-20%

Overall, the mutations in the RUNX1/AML1 are the most common point mutations described in MDS to date but RUNX1/AML1 mutations have no distinct hematologic phenotype and are most commonly associated with previous radiation exposure and with a higher risk disease (especially with excess blasts).

Hypermethylation leading to silencing of the p151NK-4b gene is also common in MDS. This phenomenon occurs in up to 80% of the cases with advanced MDS. The silencing of this gene can be reversed by the uyse of demethylating agents such as 5-azacytidine. These agents are pyrimidine analogues that inhibit DNA methyltransferase activity and could improve MDS hematopoiesis by reversing aberrant gene methylation and permitting cellular differentiation.

A number of studies suggest that erythropoietin (EPO) signaling and STAT5 activation is abnormal in MDS. The SOCS1 gene is hypermethylated in 31% of MDS patients which is associated with increased activity of the JAK/STAT pathway.

Microsatellite instability involving defects in the DNA mismatch repair system has been identified in some MDS patients, especially those with therapy-related disease.

The TP53 tumor suppressor gene, which regulates cell cycle progression, DNA repair and apoptosis is mutated in 5-10% of MDS cases. Inactivation of the TP53 gene may contribute to the leukemic progression from MDS.

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