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Muhammad Absar
Nawaf Alanazi
Abdulaziz Siyal
Masood Shammas
Amer Mahmood
Sulman Basit
Sarah AlMukhaylid
Zafar Iqbal


Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, CML progression, Poor survival, Genomic instability, Blast crisis, ANKRD36, Clinical validation


Background: Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is initiated in the bone marrow due to the chromosomal translocation t(9;22), resulting in the fusion oncogene BCR-ABL. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting BCR-ABL have transformed fatal CML into an almost curable disease. However, TKIs lose efficacy during disease progression, and the mechanism of CML progression remains to be fully understood. Additionally, common molecular biomarkers for CML progression are lacking. Our studies previously detected ANKRD36 (c.1183_1184 delGC and c.1187_1188 dupTT) associated exclusively with advanced phase CML. However, clinical validation of this finding was pending.  Therefore, this study aimed to clinically validate mutated ANKRD36 as a novel biomarker of CML progression.

Materials and Methods: The study enrolled 124 patients in all phases of CML, recruited from Mayo Hospital and Hameed Latif Hospital in Lahore, Punjab, between January 2019 and August 2021. All response criteria were adopted from the European LeukemiaNet guideline 2020. Informed consent was obtained from all study subjects. The study was approved by scientific and ethical review committees of all participating centers.

Sanger sequencing was employed to detect ANKRD36 mutations in CML patients in accelerated phase (AP) (n=11) and blast crisis (BC) (n=10), with chronic-phase CML (CP-CML) patients as controls (n=103). Samples were processed using Big Dye Terminator Cycle Sequencing Ready Reaction kits and sequenced using ABI Prism 3730 Genetic Analyzer, and sequencing using forward and reverse primers for ANKRD36.

Results: During our study, 17% of CML patients progressed to advanced phases AP-CML n= 11 (8.9%) and BC-CML n=10 (8.1%). The chronic- and advanced-phase patients showed significant difference with respect to male-to-female ratio, hemoglobin level, WBC count, and platelet count. Sanger sequencing detected ANKRD36 mutations c.1183_1184 delGC and c.1187_1185 dupTT exclusively in all AP- and BC-CML patients but in none of the CP-CML patients.  Nevertheless, mutations status was not associated with male-to-female ratio, hemoglobin level, WBC count, and platelet count, which makes ANKRD32 as an independent predictor of early and terminal disease progression in CML.

Conclusions: The study confirms ANKRD36 as a novel genomic biomarker for early and late CML progression. Further prospective studies should be carried out in this regard. ANKRD36, although fully uncharacterized in humans, shows the highest expression in bone marrow, particularly myeloid cells. Functional integrated genomic studies are recommended to further explore the role of ANKRD36 in the biology and pathogenesis of CML.

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