Absence of BRAF exon 15 mutations in multiple myeloma and Waldenström's macroglobulinemia questions its validity as a therapeutic target in plasma cell neoplasias

Am J Blood Res. 2013 May 5;3(2):181-5. Print 2013.


Purpose: Recent whole genome and/or exome sequencing in a cohort of 32 Multiple Myeloma (MΜ) patients reported the incidence of BRAF mutations at 4%, while in another exome sequencing study, BRAF mutations were reported in up to 13% of cases tested. We ran a confirmatory study by using High Resolution Melting Analysis (HRMA), which is a low-cost, straightforward and sensitive screening test for detection of BRAF exon 15 mutations in MM and Waldenström's macroglobulinemia (WM) patients, in order to investigate their incidence in every day clinical practice. We considered this investigation to be of clinical relevance following the recent emergence of potent anti-BRAF compounds.

Patients and methods: We used genomic DNA isolated from 31 bone marrow aspirates obtained from 25 MM patients and 3 patients with WM (14 female; 14 male) who signed an informed consent. Patients' median age was 69 years (range 43-86) and median follow-up time was 45 months. Myeloma subtypes were as follows: 7 IgGκ, 6 IgGλ, 7 IgAλ, 4 IgAλ and 1 non-secretory. The bone marrow plasma cells ranged from 12 to 100% (mean/median value 45%). By International Staging System (ISS) 9/25 patients were stage Ι, 6/25 stage ΙΙ, 7/25 stage ΙΙΙ, while in 3 cases staging information was missing. In 3 MM cases matched paired samples at diagnosis and at relapse were also available. DNA samples were screened using HRMA. HRMA results were confirmed by subsequent ds-bi-directional sequencing (Sanger method) for somatic mutations in exon 15 of BRAF.

Results: At a limit of detection ≥2.5% mutant allelic content by HRMA, we did not detect any BRAF mutations in exon 15 in any of our 31 samples.

Conclusions: By using HRMA we do not confirm previously reported results. Lack of detection of BRAF exon 15 mutations in our MM and WM series may be related to different sensitivity of the assays used and/or the relatively small sample size. In any case, we consider that existing data should be taken into account when considering the clinical development of BRAF inhibitors in plasma cell neoplasms.

Keywords: BRAF; Multiple myeloma; WaldenstrÖm’s macroglobulinemia; high resolution melting analysis; mutation.