An Aged/Autoimmune B-cell Program Defines the Early Transformation of Extranodal Lymphomas

Cancer Discov. 2023 Jan 9;13(1):216-243. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-22-0561.


A third of patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) present with extranodal dissemination, which is associated with inferior clinical outcomes. MYD88L265P is a hallmark extranodal DLBCL mutation that supports lymphoma proliferation. Yet extranodal lymphomagenesis and the role of MYD88L265P in transformation remain mostly unknown. Here, we show that B cells expressing Myd88L252P (MYD88L265P murine equivalent) activate, proliferate, and differentiate with minimal T-cell costimulation. Additionally, Myd88L252P skewed B cells toward memory fate. Unexpectedly, the transcriptional and phenotypic profiles of B cells expressing Myd88L252P, or other extranodal lymphoma founder mutations, resembled those of CD11c+T-BET+ aged/autoimmune memory B cells (AiBC). AiBC-like cells progressively accumulated in animals prone to develop lymphomas, and ablation of T-BET, the AiBC master regulator, stripped mouse and human mutant B cells of their competitive fitness. By identifying a phenotypically defined prospective lymphoma precursor population and its dependencies, our findings pave the way for the early detection of premalignant states and targeted prophylactic interventions in high-risk patients.

Significance: Extranodal lymphomas feature a very poor prognosis. The identification of phenotypically distinguishable prospective precursor cells represents a milestone in the pursuit of earlier diagnosis, patient stratification, and prophylactic interventions. Conceptually, we found that extranodal lymphomas and autoimmune disorders harness overlapping pathogenic trajectories, suggesting these B-cell disorders develop and evolve within a spectrum. See related commentary by Leveille et al. (Blood Cancer Discov 2023;4:8-11). This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies