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Blood. 1999 May 1;93(9):3088-95.

A new fusion gene TPM3-ALK in anaplastic large cell lymphoma created by a (1;2)(q25;p23) translocation.

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Department of Pathology, Hematology Laboratory, and UPCM-ERS 1590 CNRS, CHU Purpan, Toulouse, France.


Anaplastic large cell lymphomas (ALCL) are frequently associated with the t(2;5)(p23;q35). This translocation fuses the nucleophosmin (NPM) gene at 5q35, which encodes a nucleolar protein involved in shuttling ribonucleoproteins from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, to the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene at 2p23, encoding a tyrosine kinase receptor. In this report, we describe a typical case of ALCL whose malignant cells exhibited a novel (1;2)(q25;p23) translocation. These cells expressed ALK protein, but, in contrast to t(2;5)-positive ALCL (which show cytoplasmic, nuclear, and nucleolar staining), labeling was restricted to the malignant cell cytoplasm. Using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based technique to walk on chromosome 2 from the known ALK gene across the breakpoint, we showed that the gene involved at 1q25 is TPM3, encoding a nonmuscular tropomyosin. We subsequently identified, using reverse transcription-PCR analysis of cases showing similar ALK cytoplasm-restricted staining, fusion of the ALK and TPM3 genes in 2 other cases of ALCL. The TPM3 gene has been previously found in papillary thyroid carcinomas as a fusion partner with the TRK kinase gene. We showed that TPM3 is constitutively expressed in lymphoid cell lines, suggesting that, in these t(1;2)-bearing ALCL cases, the TPM3 gene contributes an active promoter for ALK expression. Activation of the ALK catalytic domain probably results from homodimerization of the hybrid protein TPM3-ALK, through the TPM3 protein-protein interaction domain. The present cases of ALCL associated with a novel t(1;2)(q25;p23) demonstrate that at least one fusion partner other than NPM can activate the intracytoplasmic domain of the ALK kinase.

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