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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2000 Dec;29(4):333-8.

Cytogenetic and molecular analysis of the acute monocytic leukemia cell line THP-1 with an MLL-AF9 translocation.

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University of Navarra, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain.


Cell lines derived from patients with leukemia are used in many molecular biology studies. Here we report the cytogenetic analysis of the THP-1 cell line using G-banding, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and spectral karyotyping (SKY), and the molecular characterization of the MLL-AF9 rearrangement by RT-PCR. The THP-1 cell line was established from the peripheral blood of a 1-year-old boy with acute monocytic leukemia (AML-M5). THP-1 is near-diploid and consists of two related subclones with a number of aberrations, including the t(9;11), associated with AML M5. The use of FISH allowed us to identify and characterize otherwise hidden cytogenetic rearrangements, which include duplication of the 3' portion of MLL in the derivative 9 chromosome and a deletion of the 5' portion of the AF9 gene involved in the translocation. In addition to confirming the FISH results, SKY allowed for a more precise characterization of the karyotype of THP-1 and allowed us to identify other abnormalities in this cell line, including der(1)t(1;12), der(20)t(1;20), deletions 6p, 12p, and 17p, trisomy 8, and monosomy 10. Sequencing of the RT-PCR product showed a direct in-frame fusion product on the derivative chromosome 11 between exon 6 (exon 9) of MLL and exon 5 of AF9, which is most commonly involved in MLL-AF9 translocations. This study demonstrates that combining different techniques to achieve a more precise characterization of the THP-1 cell line provides important information that will be valuable for understanding the critical events required for leukemogenesis.

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