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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Dec 7;96(25):14535-40.

AF5q31, a newly identified AF4-related gene, is fused to MLL in infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia with ins(5;11)(q31;q13q23).

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan.


Infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with MLL gene rearrangements is characterized by early pre-B phenotype (CD10(-)/CD19(+)) and poor treatment outcome. The t(4;11), creating MLL-AF4 chimeric transcripts, is the predominant 11q23 chromosome translocation in infant ALL and is associated with extremely poor prognosis as compared with other 11q23 translocations. We analyzed an infant early preB ALL with ins(5;11)(q31;q13q23) and identified the AF5q31 gene on chromosome 5q31 as a fusion partner of the MLL gene. The AF5q31 gene, which encoded a protein of 1,163 aa, was located in the vicinity of the cytokine cluster region of chromosome 5q31 and contained at least 16 exons. The AF5q31 gene was expressed in fetal heart, lung, and brain at relatively high levels and fetal liver at a low level, but the expression in these tissues decreased in adults. The AF5q31 protein was homologous to AF4-related proteins, including AF4, LAF4, and FMR2. The AF5q31 and AF4 proteins had three homologous regions, including the transactivation domain of AF4, and the breakpoint of AF5q31 was located within the region homologous to the transactivation domain of AF4. Furthermore, the clinical features of this patient with the MLL-AF5q31 fusion transcript, characterized by the early pre-B phenotype (CD10(-)/CD19(+)) and poor outcome, were similar to those of patients having MLL-AF4 chimeric transcripts. These findings suggest that AF5q31 and AF4 might define a new family particularly involved in the pathogenesis of 11q23-associated-ALL.

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