Transcriptional signatures of the BCL2 family for individualized acute myeloid leukaemia treatment

Chansub Lee, Sungyoung Lee, Eunchae Park, Junshik Hong, Dong Yeop Shin, Ja Min Byun, Hongseok Yun, Youngil Koh, Sung Soo Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although anti-apoptotic proteins of the B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL2) family have been utilized as therapeutic targets in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), their complicated regulatory networks make individualized therapy difficult. This study aimed to discover the transcriptional signatures of BCL2 family genes that reflect regulatory dynamics, which can guide individualized therapeutic strategies. Methods: From three AML RNA-seq cohorts (BeatAML, LeuceGene, and TCGA; n = 451, 437, and 179, respectively), we constructed the BCL2 family signatures (BFSigs) by applying an innovative gene-set selection method reflecting biological knowledge followed by non-negative matrix factorization (NMF). To demonstrate the significance of the BFSigs, we conducted modelling to predict response to BCL2 family inhibitors, clustering, and functional enrichment analysis. Cross-platform validity of BFSigs was also confirmed using NanoString technology in a separate cohort of 47 patients. Results: We established BFSigs labeled as the BCL2, MCL1/BCL2, and BFL1/MCL1 signatures that identify key anti-apoptotic proteins. Unsupervised clustering based on BFSig information consistently classified AML patients into three robust subtypes across different AML cohorts, implying the existence of biological entities revealed by the BFSig approach. Interestingly, each subtype has distinct enrichment patterns of major cancer pathways, including MAPK and mTORC1, which propose subtype-specific combination treatment with apoptosis modulating drugs. The BFSig-based classifier also predicted response to venetoclax with remarkable performance (area under the ROC curve, AUROC = 0.874), which was well-validated in an independent cohort (AUROC = 0.950). Lastly, we successfully confirmed the validity of BFSigs using NanoString technology. Conclusions: This study proposes BFSigs as a biomarker for the effective selection of apoptosis targeting treatments and cancer pathways to co-target in AML.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111
JournalGenome Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Acute myeloid leukaemia
  • B-cell lymphoma-2 family
  • Transcriptional signatures


Dive into the research topics of 'Transcriptional signatures of the BCL2 family for individualized acute myeloid leukaemia treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this