by Michael J. Kluk, Bjoern Chapuy, Papiya Sinha, Alyssa Roy, Paola Dal Cin, Donna S. Neuberg, Stefano Monti, Geraldine S. Pinkus, Margaret A. Shipp, Scott J. Rodig
Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disease. A small subset of DLBCLs has translocations involving the MYC locus and an additional group has a molecular signature resembling Burkitt lymphoma (mBL). Presently, identification of such cases by morphology is unreliable and relies on cytogenetic or complex molecular methods such as gene transcriptional profiling. Herein, we describe an immunohistochemical (IHC) method for identifying DLBCLs with increased MYC protein expression. We tested 77 cases of DLBCL and identified 15 cases with high MYC protein expression (nuclear staining in >50% of tumor cells). All MYC translocation positive cases had increased MYC protein expression by this IHC assay. In addition, gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) of the DLBCL transcriptional profiles revealed that tumors with increased MYC protein expression (regardless of underlying MYC translocation status) had coordinate upregulation of MYC target genes, providing molecular confirmation of the IHC results. We then generated a molecular classifier derived from the MYC IHC results in our cases and employed it to successfully classify mBLs from two previously reported independent case series, providing additional confirmation that the MYC IHC results identify clinically important subsets of DLBCLs. Lastly, we found that DLBCLs with high MYC protein expression had inferior overall survival when treated with R-CHOP. In conclusion, the IHC method described herein can be used to readily identify the biologically and clinically distinct cases of MYC-driven DLBCL, which represent a clinically significant subset of DLBCL cases due to their inferior overall survival.