CARD11 gain of function upregulates BCL2A1 and promotes resistance to targeted therapies combination in B-cell lymphoma

Decombis S, Bellanger C, Le Bris Y, Madiot C, Jardine J, Santos JC, Boulet D, Dousset C, Menard A, Kervoelen C, Douillard E, Moreau P, Minvielle S, Moreau-Aubry A, Tessoulin B, Roue G, Bidère N, Le Gouill S, Pellat-Deceunynck C, Chiron D.


A strategy combining targeted therapies is effective in B-cell lymphomas (BCL), such as mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), but acquired resistances remain a recurrent issue. In this study, we performed integrative longitudinal genomic and single-cell RNA-sequencing analyses of patients with MCL who were treated with targeted therapies against CD20, BCL2, and Bruton tyrosine kinase (OAsIs trial). We revealed the emergence of subclones with a selective advantage against OAsIs combination in vivo and showed that resistant cells were characterized by B-cell receptor (BCR)-independent overexpression of NF-.B1 target genes, especially owing to CARD11 mutations. Functional studies demonstrated that CARD11 gain of function not only resulted in BCR independence but also directly increased the transcription of the antiapoptotic BCL2A1, leading to resistance against venetoclax and OAsIs combination. Based on the transcriptional profile of OAsIs-resistant subclones, we designed a 16-gene resistance signature that was also predictive for patients with MCL who were treated with conventional chemotherapy, underlying a common escape mechanism. Among druggable strategies to inhibit CARD11-dependent NF-kappa B1 transduction, we evaluated the selective inhibition of its essential partner MALT1. We demonstrated that MALT1 protease inhibition led to a reduction in the expression of genes involved in OAsIs resistance, including BCL2A1. Consequently, MALT1 inhibition induced synergistic cell death in combination with BCL2 inhibition, irrespective of CARD11 mutational status, both in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our study identified mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapies and provided a novel strategy to overcome resistance in aggressive BCL. The OAsIs trial was registered at #NCT02558816.

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