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Sequencing studies of diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) have identified hundreds of recurrently altered genes. However, it remains largely unknown whether and how these mutations may contribute to lymphomagenesis, either individually or in combination. Existing strategies to address this problem predominantly utilize cell lines, which are limited by their initial characteristics and subsequent adaptions to prolonged in vitro culture. Here, we describe a co-culture system that enables the ex vivo expansion and viral transduction of primary human germinal center B cells. Incorporation of CRISPR/Cas9 technology enables high-throughput functional interrogation of genes recurrently mutated in DLBCL. Using a backbone of BCL2 with either BCL6 or MYC, we identify co-operating genetic alterations that promote growth or even full transformation into synthetically engineered DLBCL models. The resulting tumors can be expanded and sequentially transplanted in vivo, providing a scalable platform to test putative cancer genes and to create mutation-directed, bespoke lymphoma models.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





Wellcome MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge, CB2 0AW, UK.