Our current research was featured in one of the prestigious medical journals “Modern pathology”

Plasmablastic lymphoma (PBL) is a rare and aggressive B-cell lymphoma with
overlapping characteristics with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and multiple myeloma. Hyperactive Wnt signaling derails homeostasis and promotes oncogenesis and chemoresistance in DLBCL and multiple myeloma. Evidence suggests active cross-talk between the Wnt and RAS pathways impacting metastasis in solid cancers in which combined targeted therapies show effective results. Recent genomic studies in PBL demonstrated a high frequency of mutations linked with the RAS signaling pathway.
However, the role of RAS and Wnt signaling pathway molecule expression in PBL
remained unknown. We examined the expression of Wnt and RAS pathway-related genes in a well-curated cohort of PBL. Because activated B cells are considered immediate precursors of plasmablasts in B cell development, we compared this data with activated B-cell type DLBCL (ABC-DLBCL) patients, employing NanoString transcriptome analysis in 770 genes.

Hierarchical clustering revealed distinctive differential gene expression between PBL and ABC-DLBCL. Gene set enrichment analysis labeled the RAS signaling pathway as the most enriched (37 genes) in PBL, including upregulating critical genes, such as NRAS, RAF1, SHC1, and SOS1. Wnt pathway genes were also enriched (n = 22) by gene set enrichment analysis. Molecules linked with Wnt signaling activation, such as ligands or targets (FZD3, FZD7, c-MYC, WNT5A, WNT5B, and WNT10B), were elevated in PBL. Our data also showed that, unlike ABC-DLBCL, the deranged Wnt signaling activity in PBL was not linked with hyperactive nuclear factor κB and B-cell receptor signaling. In divergence, Wnt signaling inhibitors (CXXC4, SFRP2, and DKK1) also showed overexpression in PBL. The high expression of RAS signaling molecules reported may indicate linkage with gain-in-function RAS mutations. In conclusion, high expression of Wnt and RAS signaling molecules may pave pathways to explore benefiting from combined targeted therapies, as reported in solid cancer, to improve prognosis in PBL patients.