We performed a genomic, transcriptomic, and immunophenotypic study of 347 patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) to uncover the molecular basis underlying acquired deficiency of MHC expression. Low MHC-II expression defines tumors originating from the centroblast-rich dark zone of the germinal center (GC) that was associated with inferior prognosis. MHC-II-deficient tumors were characterized by somatically acquired gene mutations reducing MHC-II expression and a lower amount of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. In particular, we demonstrated a strong enrichment of EZH2 mutations in both MHC-I- and MHC-II-negative primary lymphomas, and observed reduced MHC expression and T-cell infiltrates in murine lymphoma models expressing mutant Ezh2 Y641. Of clinical relevance, EZH2 inhibitors significantly restored MHC expression in EZH2 -mutated human DLBCL cell lines. Hence, our findings suggest a tumor progression model of acquired immune escape in GC-derived lymphomas and pave the way for development of complementary therapeutic approaches combining immunotherapy with epigenetic reprogramming.
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