Blood 2012 Sep 16;120(13):2704-7. Epub 2012 Aug 16.
Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Department of Haematology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Subclones homozygous for JAK2V617F are more common in polycythemia vera (PV) than essential thrombocythemia (ET), but their prevalence and significance remain unclear. The JAK2 mutation status of 6495 BFU-E, grown in low erythropoietin conditions, was determined in 77 patients with PV or ET. Homozygous-mutant colonies were common in patients with JAK2V617F-positive PV and were surprisingly prevalent in JAK2V617F-positive ET and JAK2 exon 12-mutated PV. Using microsatellite PCR to map loss-of-heterozygosity breakpoints within individual colonies, we demonstrate that recurrent acquisition of JAK2V617F homozygosity occurs frequently in both PV and ET. PV was distinguished from ET by expansion of a dominant homozygous subclone, the selective advantage of which is likely to reflect additional genetic or epigenetic lesions. Our results suggest a model in which development of a dominant JAK2V617F-homzygous subclone drives erythrocytosis in many PV patients, with alternative mechanisms operating in those with small or undetectable homozygous-mutant clones.