Do mantle cell lymphomas have an 'Achilles heel'?

Curr Opin Hematol. 2014 Jul;21(4):350-7. doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000057.


Purpose of review: Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a mature B-cell malignancy that continues to have a high mortality rate. In this article, we discuss key pathogenic pathways in MCL biology and their possible therapeutic targeting.

Recent findings: In addition to cyclin-D1, the transcription factor SOX-11 emerged as a common characteristic of MCL. Genomic studies have identified a number of recurrently mutated genes; in order of descending frequency these include ATM, CCND1, UBR5, TP53, BIRC3, NOTCH1/2 and TRAF2. However, no clear oncogenic driver has been identified. In contrast, several observations indicate that MCL cells are antigen-experienced cells and that the tumor microenvironment and B-cell receptor engagement are important. This is underscored by the impressive clinical responses achieved with the Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib. Recently identified activating mutations in the noncanonical nuclear factor-kappa B pathway could give rise to ibrutinib resistance. Poly-ADP ribose polymerase and aurora kinase inhibitors may be synthetic lethal with the common aberrations in DNA damage pathways found in MCL. Also, ABT-199, a potent and selective inhibitor of B-cell lymphoma 2, has promising activity in early studies.

Summary: MCL is a heterogeneous disease, and no single Achilles heel has been identified. Nevertheless, genomic, molecular and clinical studies have revealed vulnerabilities that can be exploited for effective therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Mantle-Cell / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, Mantle-Cell / etiology*
  • Lymphoma, Mantle-Cell / metabolism*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Cyclin D1