The identification of irreversible rituximab-resistant lymphoma caused by CD20 gene mutations

Blood Cancer J. 2011 Apr;1(4):e15. doi: 10.1038/bcj.2011.11. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


C-terminal mutations of CD20 constitute part of the mechanisms that resist rituximab therapy. Most CD20 having a C-terminal mutation was not recognized by L26 antibody. As the exact epitope of L26 has not been determined, expression and localization of mutated CD20 have not been completely elucidated. In this study, we revealed that the binding site of L26 monoclonal antibody is located in the C-terminal cytoplasmic region of CD20 molecule, which was often lost in mutated CD20 molecules. This indicates that it is difficult to distinguish the mutation of CD20 from under expression of the CD20 protein. To detect comprehensive CD20 molecules including the resistant mutants, we developed a novel monoclonal antibody that recognizes the N-terminal cytoplasm region of CD20 molecule. We screened L26-negative cases with our antibody and found several mutations. A rituximab-binding analysis using the cryopreserved specimen that mutation was identified in CD20 molecules indicated that the C-terminal region of CD20 undertakes a critical role in presentation of the large loop in which the rituximab-binding site locates. Thus, combination of antibodies of two kinds of epitope permits the identification of C-terminal CD20 mutations associated with irreversible resistance to rituximab and may help the decision of the treatment strategy.