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J Clin Invest. 1989 Nov; 84(5): 1454–1459.
PMCID: PMC304009

Sequential bcl-2 and c-myc oncogene rearrangements associated with the clinical transformation of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


We report a case of untreated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with histologic progression over 1 yr from a low-grade, small cleaved follicular center cell lymphoma to a high-grade, small noncleaved follicular center cell lymphoma. Both lymphomas had identical immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy-chain joining gene (JH), kappa light-chain joining gene, and bcl-2 gene rearrangements, indicating the clonal identity of the two tumors. The Ig heavy chain locus on one chromosome 14 was involved in an initial t(14; 18) translocation as shown by comigrating JH and bcl-2 rearrangements. However, the oncogene c-myc was in the germline configuration in the initial lymphoma but had one allele rearranged near the 3' end of exon I in the high-grade tumor; DNA sequence analysis was consistent with a chromosomal breakpoint at that site. The presence of the c-myc rearrangement in the high-grade tumor suggest a role for c-myc in the clonal evolution of the low-grade tumor into a more aggressive lymphoma. The coexistence of both bcl-2 gene and c-myc oncogene rearrangements in the same tumor is unusual, with only a few cases reported. Furthermore, this case is unique in the direct demonstration of the histologic and clinical progression of a human lymphoma associated with the sequential rearrangement of the bcl-2 gene and the c-myc oncogene.

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