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Neoplasia. 2011 Jun;13(6):550-60.

Chromosome arm-specific long telomeres: a new clonal event in primary chronic myelogenous leukemia cells.

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  • 1Division of Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.


Previous studies demonstrated that critically shortened telomere lengths correlate with the chromosome instability in carcinogenesis. However, little has been noticed regarding the correlation of long telomeres at specific chromosomes with malignant disorders. We studied relative telomere lengths (RTLs) for individual chromosomes using the quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization technique in a cohort of 32 patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and 32 normal samples. We found that telomeres at some specific chromosome arms remain well maintained or even lengthened in a high frequency (27/32) of leukemia cases. In particular, 10 chromosome arms, 4q, 5p, 7q, 11p, 13p, 13q, 14p, 15p, 18p, and Xp, with long telomeres were consistently identified in different samples, and six of them (4q, 5p, 13p, 13q, 14p, and Xp) with relatively long telomeres were also observed in normal samples, but they appeared in lower occurrence rate and shorter RTL than in CML samples. Our results strongly indicate the presence of a special leukemia cell population, or a clone, originated from a common progenitor that is characterized with chromosome arm-specific long telomeres. We suggest that relatively long telomeres located at key chromosomes could be preferentially maintained or further elongated during the early stage of malignant transformation.

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