The basis for acquired resistance to JAK inhibition in patients with JAK2-driven hematologic malignancies is not well understood. We report a patient with a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) with a BCR activator of RhoGEF and GTPase (BCR)-JAK2 fusion with initial hematologic response to ruxolitinib who rapidly developed B-lymphoid blast transformation. We analyzed pre-ruxolitinib and blast transformation samples using genome sequencing, DNA mate-pair sequencing (MPseq), RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), and chromosomal microarray to characterize possible mechanisms of resistance. No resistance mutations in the BCR-JAK2 fusion gene or transcript were identified, and fusion transcript expression levels remained stable. However, at the time of blast transformation, MPseq detected a new IKZF1 copy-number loss, which is predicted to result in loss of normal IKZF1 protein translation. RNA-seq revealed significant upregulation of genes negatively regulated by IKZF1, including IL7R and CRLF2. Disease progression was also characterized by adaptation to an activated B-cell receptor (BCR)-like signaling phenotype, with marked upregulation of genes such as CD79A, CD79B, IGLL1, VPREB1, BLNK, ZAP70, RAG1, and RAG2. In summary, IKZF1 deletion and a switch from cytokine dependence to activated BCR-like signaling phenotype represent putative mechanisms of ruxolitinib resistance in this case, recapitulating preclinical data on resistance to JAK inhibition in CRLF2-rearranged Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
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