The outcomes of patients with multiple myeloma (MM) refractory to immunomodulatory agents (IMiDs) and proteasome inhibitors (PIs) remain poor. We performed whole genome and transcriptome sequencing of 39 heavily pretreated relapsed/refractory MM (RRMM) patients to identify mechanisms of resistance and potential therapeutic targets. We observed a high mutational load and indications of increased genomic instability. Recurrently mutated genes in RRMM, which had not been previously reported or only observed at a lower frequency in newly diagnosed MM, included NRAS, BRAF, TP53, SLC4A7, MLLT4, EWSR1, HCFC2, and COPS3. We found multiple genomic regions with bi-allelic events affecting tumor suppressor genes and demonstrated a significant adverse impact of bi-allelic TP53 alterations on survival. With regard to potentially resistance conferring mutations, recurrently mutated gene networks included genes with relevance for PI and IMiD activity, the latter particularly affecting members of the Cereblon and the COP9 signalosome complex. We observed a major impact of signatures associated with exposure to melphalan or impaired DNA double-strand break homologous recombination repair in RRMM. The latter coincided with mutations in genes associated with PARP inhibitor sensitivity in 49% of RRMM patients, a finding with potential therapeutic implications. In conclusion, this comprehensive genomic characterization revealed a complex mutational and structural landscape in RRMM and highlights potential implications for therapeutic strategies.
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