Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a malignancy arising from naive B lymphocytes with common bone marrow (BM) involvement. Although t(11;14) is a primary event in MCL development, the highly diverse molecular etiology and causal genomic events are still being explored. We investigated the transcriptome of CD19+ BM cells from eight MCL patients at single-cell level. The transcriptomes revealed marked heterogeneity across patients, while general homogeneity and clonal continuity was observed within the patients with no clear evidence of subclonal involvement. All patients were SOX11+CCND1+CD20+. Despite monotypic surface immunoglobulin (Ig) κ or λ protein expression in MCL, 10.9% of the SOX11 + malignant cells expressed both light chain transcripts. The early lymphocyte transcription factor SOX4 was expressed in a fraction of SOX11 + cells in two patients and co-expressed with the precursor lymphoblastic marker, FAT1, in a blastoid case, suggesting a potential prognostic role. Additionally, SOX4 was found to identify non-malignant SOX11– pro-/pre-B cell populations. Altogether, the observed expression of markers such as SOX4, CD27, IgA and IgG in the SOX11+ MCL cells, may suggest that the malignant cells are not fixed in the differentiation state of naïve mature B cells, but instead the patients carry B lymphocytes of different differentiation stages.
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