Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a clinical and biological heterogeneous disease that includes systemic anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive and ALK-negative entities. To discover biomarkers and/or genes involved in ALK-negative ALCL pathogenesis, we applied the cancer outlier profile analysis algorithm to a gene expression profiling data set including 249 cases of T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and normal T cells. Ectopic coexpression of ERBB4 and COL29A1 genes was detected in 24% of ALK-negative ALCL patients. RNA sequencing and 5' RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of complementary DNA ends identified 2 novel ERBB4-truncated transcripts displaying intronic transcription start sites. By luciferase assays, we defined that the expression of ERBB4-aberrant transcripts is promoted by endogenous intronic long terminal repeats. ERBB4 expression was confirmed at the protein level by western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. Lastly, we demonstrated that ERBB4-truncated forms show oncogenic potentials and that ERBB4 pharmacologic inhibition partially controls ALCL cell growth and disease progression in an ERBB4-positive patient-derived tumorgraft model. In conclusion, we identified a new subclass of ALK-negative ALCL characterized by aberrant expression of ERBB4-truncated transcripts carrying intronic 5' untranslated regions.
© 2016 by The American Society of Hematology.