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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Clinical Cancer Research, Volume 23, Issue 22, November 2017, Pages 7119-7129.

The published version is available at Copyright © AACR


Purpose: B-cell lymphomas must acquire resistance to apoptosis during their development. We recently discovered BCLW, an antiapoptotic BCL2 family member thought only to contribute to spermatogenesis, was overexpressed in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and Burkitt lymphoma. To gain insight into the contribution of BCLW to B-cell lymphomas and its potential to confer resistance to BCL2 inhibitors, we investigated the expression of BCLW and the other antiapoptotic BCL2 family members in six different B-cell lymphomas. Experimental Design: We performed a large-scale gene expression analysis of datasets comprising approximately 2,300 lymphoma patient samples, including non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphomas as well as indolent and aggressive lymphomas. Data were validated experimentally with qRT-PCR and IHC. Results: We report BCLW is significantly overexpressed in aggressive and indolent lymphomas, including DLBCL, Burkitt, follicular, mantle cell, marginal zone, and Hodgkin lymphomas. Notably, BCLW was preferentially overexpressed over that of BCL2 and negatively correlated with BCL2 in specific lymphomas. Unexpectedly, BCLW was overexpressed as frequently as BCL2 in follicular lymphoma. Evaluation of all five antiapoptotic BCL2 family members in six types of B-cell lymphoma revealed that BCL2, BCLW, and BCLX were consistently overexpressed, whereas MCL1 and A1 were not. In addition, individual lymphomas frequently overexpressed more than one antiapoptotic BCL2 family member. Conclusions: Our comprehensive analysis indicates B-cell lymphomas commonly select for BCLW overexpression in combination with or instead of other antiapoptotic BCL2 family members. Our results suggest BCLW may be equally as important in lymphomagenesis as BCL2 and that targeting BCLW in lymphomas should be considered. ©2017 AACR.

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