Alimentary lymphomas arising from T cells are rare and aggressive malignancies in humans. In comparison, they represent the most common anatomical form of lymphoma in cats. Due to the low prevalence in humans, the underlying pathomechanism for these diseases is poorly characterised, limiting experimental analysis and therapeutic exploration. To date, activating mutations of the JAK/STAT core cancer pathway and particularly the STAT5B oncoprotein have been identified in human enteropathy-associated T cell lymphoma. Here, we describe a high homology of human and feline STAT3 and STAT5B proteins and strong conservation at the genomic level. Analysis of 42 samples of feline T cell alimentary lymphoma reveals broad activation of STAT3 and STAT5B. Screening for known activating mutations in STAT3 or STAT5B identifies the presence of the STAT5BN642H driver mutation in feline enteropathy-associated T cell lymphoma in 7 out of 42 (16.67%) samples in total. Regarding lymphoma subtypes, the majority of mutations with 5 out of 17 (29.41%) cases were found in feline enteropathy-associated lymphoma type II (EATL II). This identification of an oncogenic STAT5B driver mutation in felines recapitulates the genetic situation in the corresponding human disease, thereby establishing the cat as a potential new model for a rare and incurable human T cell disease.
Keywords: STAT3; STAT5B; driver mutation; feline alimentary lymphoma.