Immunohistochemical loss of enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 (EZH2) protein expression correlates with EZH2 alterations and portends a worse outcome in myelodysplastic syndromes

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Abstract

EZH2 coding mutation (EZH2MUT), resulting in loss-of-function, is an independent predictor of overall survival in MDS. EZH2 function can be altered by other mechanisms including copy number changes, and mutations in other genes and non-coding regions of EZH2. Assessment of EZH2 protein can identify alterations of EZH2 function missed by mutation assessment alone. Precise evaluation of EZH2 function and gene-protein correlation in clinical MDS cohorts is important in the context of upcoming targeted therapies aimed to restore EZH2 function. In this study, we evaluated the clinicopathologic characteristics of newly diagnosed MDS patients with EZH2MUT and correlated the findings with protein expression using immunohistochemistry. There were 40 (~6%) EZH2MUT MDS [33 men, seven women; median age 74 years (range, 55–90)]. EZH2 mutations spanned the entire coding region. Majority had dominant EZH2 clone [median VAF, 30% (1–92)], frequently co-occurring with co-dominant TET2 (38%) and sub-clonal ASXL1 (55%) and RUNX1 (43%) mutations. EZH2MUT MDS showed frequent loss-of-expression compared to EZH2WT (69% vs. 27%, p = 0.001). Interestingly, NINE (23%) EZH2WT MDS also showed loss-of-expression. EZH2MUT and loss-of-expression significantly associated with male predominance and chr(7) loss. Further, only EZH2 loss-of-expression patients showed significantly lower platelet counts, a trend for higher BM blast% and R-IPSS scores. Over a 14-month median follow-up, both EZH2MUT (p = 0.027) and loss-of-expression (p = 0.0063) correlated with poor survival, independent of R-IPSS, age and gender. When analyzed together, loss-of-expression showed a stronger correlation than mutation (p = 0.061 vs. p = 0.43). In conclusion, immunohistochemical assessment of EZH2 protein, alongside mutation, is important for prognostic workup of MDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalModern Pathology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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