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Leukemia. 1991 Mar;5(3):200-4.

Rearrangement of the retinoic acid receptor gene in acute promyelocytic leukemia.

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  • 1Division of Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


The retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RAR-alpha) gene was previously localized to chromosome 17q21, a region close to the t(15;17) (q22;q21) abnormality in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). We used the RAR-alpha gene as a probe and found that eight of nine APL patient samples with t(15;17) (q22;q21) showed rearranged bands. A tenth APL patient was diploid and demonstrated no rearrangement. One patient who had rearrangement as an acute leukemia did not have rearrangement in remission. The results obtained from intron/exon mapping of the RAR-alpha gene demonstrated that breakpoints of seven of the eight patients occurred within intron 1. Northern blot analysis of leukemic samples indicated the expression of two RAR-alpha mRNA of 2.7 and 3.7 kb. However, two additional mRNA of 4.1 and 3.2 kb were found in an APL patient. We conclude that the RAR-alpha gene is directly involved in the t(15;17) translocation in APL and may transcribe aberrant messages.

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