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Blood. 1997 Dec 15;90(12):4933-7.

Incidence of TEL/AML1 fusion gene analyzed consecutively in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in relapse.

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  • 1Department of General Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology, Children's University Hospital, Giessen, Germany.


The translocation t(12; 21)(p13; q22) is difficult to detect by classic cytogenetics. However, using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and by screening for the TEL/AML1 rearrangement by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), it has been demonstrated to be the most frequent known structural chromosomal abnormality in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It is closely correlated with a B-cell precursor (BCP) phenotype and is considered a favorable prognostic factor. However, little is known about the incidence of the translocation in relapsed patients and the duration of complete remission (CR) in children expressing the TEL/AML1 fusion gene. We therefore examined 49 bone marrow samples from children with ALL at first or second relapse that were consecutively mailed to our laboratory to test for the presence of t(12; 21) using reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR. The TEL/AML1 rearrangement could be identified in nine of 44 (20%) of the patients, a result similar to the reported incidence at diagnosis. Most of the TEL/AML1-positive children showed no adverse clinical features at diagnosis (eg, white blood cell [WBC] count <100 x 10(9)/L or age <10 years), and regarding these data, there were no differences versus children who were negative for the fusion gene. However, the period of remission was about 1 year longer in children expressing TEL/AML1 (P = .046), and the majority of relapses in this group appeared late (<2 years after diagnosis). Our findings therefore reinforce the urgent need for further prospective studies with a long follow-up period to determine the true prognostic significance of t(12; 21) and to avoid premature changes of treatment strategies.

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