The molecular pathogenesis of natural killer/T-cell lymphoma (NKTCL) is not well understood. We conducted whole-exome sequencing and identified Janus kinase 3 (JAK3) somatic-activating mutations (A572V and A573V) in 2 of 4 patients with NKTCLs. Further validation of the prevalence of JAK3 mutations was determined by Sanger sequencing and high-resolution melt (HRM) analysis in an additional 61 cases. In total, 23 of 65 (35.4%) cases harbored JAK3 mutations. Functional characterization of the JAK3 mutations support its involvement in cytokine-independent JAK/STAT constitutive activation leading to increased cell growth. Moreover, treatment of both JAK3-mutant and wild-type NKTCL cell lines with a novel pan-JAK inhibitor, CP-690550, resulted in dose-dependent reduction of phosphorylated STAT5, reduced cell viability, and increased apoptosis. Hence, targeting the deregulated JAK/STAT pathway could be a promising therapy for patients with NKTCLs.
Significance: Gene mutations causing NKTCL have not been fully identified. Through exome sequencing, we identified activating mutations of JAK3 that may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of NKTCLs. Our findings have important implications for the management of patients with NKTCLs.