Intrachromosomal amplification of chromosome 21 is a heterogeneous chromosomal rearrangement occurring in 2% of cases of childhood precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. These abnormalities are too complex to engineer faithfully in animal models and are unrepresented in leukemia cell lines. As a resource for future functional and preclinical studies, we have created xenografts from the leukemic blasts of patients with intrachromosomal amplification of chromosome 21 and characterized them by in-vivo and ex-vivo luminescent imaging, flow immunophenotyping, and histological and ultrastructural analyses of bone marrow and the central nervous system. Investigation of up to three generations of xenografts revealed phenotypic evolution, branching genomic architecture and, compared with other B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia genetic subtypes, greater clonal diversity of leukemia-initiating cells. In support of intrachromosomal amplification of chromosome 21 as a primary genetic abnormality, it was always retained through generations of xenografts, although we also observed the first example of structural evolution of this rearrangement. Clonal segregation in xenografts revealed convergent evolution of different secondary genomic abnormalities implicating several known tumor suppressor genes and a region, containing the B-cell adaptor, PIK3AP1, and nuclear receptor corepressor, LCOR, in the progression of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Tracking of mutations in patients and derived xenografts provided evidence for co-operation between abnormalities activating the RAS pathway in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and for their aggressive clonal expansion in the xeno-environment. Bi-allelic loss of the CDKN2A/B locus was recurrently maintained or emergent in xenografts and also strongly selected as RNA sequencing demonstrated a complete absence of reads for genes associated with the deletions.
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