Multiple myeloma is affected by multiple and heterogeneous somatic mutations in adhesion- and receptor tyrosine kinase signaling molecules

Blood Cancer J. 2013 Feb 8;3(2):e102. doi: 10.1038/bcj.2012.47.


Multiple myeloma (MM) is a largely incurable plasma cell malignancy with a poorly understood and heterogeneous clinical course. To identify potential, functionally relevant somatic mutations in MM, we performed whole-exome sequencing of five primary MM, corresponding germline DNA and six MM cell lines, and developed a bioinformatics strategy that also integrated published mutational data of 38 MM patients. Our analysis confirms that identical, recurrent mutations of single genes are infrequent in MM, but highlights that mutations cluster in important cellular pathways. Specifically, we show enrichment of mutations in adhesion molecules of MM cells, emphasizing the important role for the interaction of the MM cells with their microenvironment. We describe an increased rate of mutations in receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and associated signaling effectors, for example, in EGFR, ERBB3, KRAS and MAP2K2, pointing to a role of aberrant RTK signaling in the development or progression of MM. The diversity of mutations affecting different nodes of a particular signaling network appears to be an intrinsic feature of individual MM samples, and the elucidation of intra- as well as interindividual redundancy in mutations that affect survival pathways will help to better tailor targeted therapeutic strategies to the specific needs of the MM patient.