NOTCH1 mutations identify a genetic subgroup of chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients with high risk of transformation and poor outcome

Leukemia. 2013 Apr;27(5):1100-6. doi: 10.1038/leu.2012.357. Epub 2012 Dec 6.


NOTCH1 has been found recurrently mutated in a subset of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). To analyze biological features and clinical impact of NOTCH1 mutations in CLL, we sequenced this gene in 565 patients. NOTCH1 mutations, found in 63 patients (11%), were associated with unmutated IGHV, high expression of CD38 and ZAP-70, trisomy 12, advanced stage and elevated lactate dehydrogenase. Sequential analysis in 200 patients demonstrated acquisition of mutation in one case (0.5%) and disappearance after treatment in two. Binet A and B patients with NOTCH1-mutated had a shorter time to treatment. NOTCH1-mutated patients were more frequently refractory to therapy and showed shorter progression-free and overall survival after complete remission. Overall survival was shorter in NOTCH1-mutated patients, although not independently from IGHV. NOTCH1 mutation increased the risk of transformation to diffuse large B-cell lymphoma independently from IGHV, with this being validated in resampling tests of replicability. In summary, NOTCH1 mutational status, that was rarely acquired during the course of the disease, identify a genetic subgroup with high risk of transformation and poor outcome. This recently identified genetic subgroup of CLL patients deserves prospective studies to define their best management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / mortality
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Receptor, Notch1 / genetics*
  • Risk


  • NOTCH1 protein, human
  • Receptor, Notch1