DNMT3A and TET2 dominate clonal hematopoiesis and demonstrate benign phenotypes and different genetic predispositions

Blood. 2017 Aug 10;130(6):753-762. doi: 10.1182/blood-2017-04-777029. Epub 2017 Jun 27.


Age-associated clonal hematopoiesis caused by acquired mutations in myeloid cancer-associated genes is highly prevalent in the normal population. Its etiology, biological impact on hematopoiesis, and oncogenic risk is poorly defined at this time. To gain insight into this phenomenon, we analyzed a cohort of 2530 related and unrelated hematologically normal individuals (ages 55 to 101 years). We used a sensitive gene-targeted deep sequencing approach to gain precision on the exact prevalence of driver mutations and the proportions of affected genes. Mutational status was correlated with biological parameters. We report a higher overall prevalence of driver mutations (13.7%), which occurred mostly (93%) in DNMT3A or TET2 and were highly age-correlated. Mutation in these 2 genes had some distinctive effects on end points. TET2 mutations were more age-dependent, associated with a modest neutropenic effect (9%, P = .012), demonstrated familial aggregation, and associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mutations in DNMT3A had no impact on blood counts or indices. Mutational burden of both genes correlated with X-inactivation skewing but no significant association with age-adjusted telomere length reduction was documented. The discordance between the high prevalence of mutations in these 2 genes and their limited biological impact raise the question of the potential role of dysregulated epigenetic modifiers in normal aging hematopoiesis, which may include support to failing hematopoiesis.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Clone Cells
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics*
  • DNA Methyltransferase 3A
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Dioxygenases
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Hematopoiesis*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Telomere Homeostasis
  • X Chromosome Inactivation


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DNMT3A protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Dioxygenases
  • TET2 protein, human
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • DNA Methyltransferase 3A

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