The interaction of germline variation and somatic cancer driver mutations is under-investigated. Here we describe the genomic mitochondrial landscape in adult acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and show that rare variants affecting the nuclear- and mitochondrially-encoded complex I genes show near-mutual exclusivity with somatic driver mutations affecting isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1), but not IDH2 suggesting a unique epistatic relationship. Whereas AML cells with rare complex I variants or mutations in IDH1 or IDH2 all display attenuated mitochondrial respiration, heightened sensitivity to complex I inhibitors including the clinical-grade inhibitor, IACS-010759, is observed only for IDH1-mutant AML. Furthermore, IDH1 mutant blasts that are resistant to the IDH1-mutant inhibitor, ivosidenib, retain sensitivity to complex I inhibition. We propose that the IDH1 mutation limits the flexibility for citrate utilization in the presence of impaired complex I activity to a degree that is not apparent in IDH2 mutant cells, exposing a mutation-specific metabolic vulnerability. This reduced metabolic plasticity explains the epistatic relationship between the germline complex I variants and oncogenic IDH1 mutation underscoring the utility of genomic data in revealing metabolic vulnerabilities with implications for therapy.
© 2022. The Author(s).