Emergence of drug resistance to all available therapies is the major challenge to improving survival in myeloma. Cereblon (CRBN) is the essential binding protein of the widely used immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs) and novel CRBN E3 ligase modulator drugs (CELMoDs) in myeloma, as well as certain proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs), in development for a range of diseases. Using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data from 455 patients and RNA sequencing (RNASeq) data from 655 patients, including newly diagnosed (WGS, n = 198; RNASeq, n = 437), lenalidomide (LEN)-refractory (WGS, n = 203; RNASeq, n = 176), and pomalidomide (POM)-refractory cohorts (WGS, n = 54; RNASeq, n = 42), we found incremental increases in the frequency of 3 CRBN aberrations, namely point mutations, copy losses/structural variations, and a specific variant transcript (exon 10 spliced), with progressive IMiD exposure, until almost one-third of patients had CBRN alterations by the time they were POM refractory. We found all 3 CRBN aberrations were associated with inferior outcomes to POM in those already refractory to LEN, including those with gene copy losses and structural variations, a finding not previously described. This represents the first comprehensive analysis and largest data set of CBRN alterations in myeloma patients as they progress through therapy. It will help inform patient selection for sequential therapies with CRBN-targeting drugs.
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