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Leukemia. 2001 Sep;15(9):1442-7.

Characterization of additional genetic events in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia with TEL/AML1 gene fusion: a molecular cytogenetics study.

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Department of Pathology, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, People's Republic of China.


TEL/AML1 gene fusion that results from a cryptic t(12;21) is the most common genetic aberration in childhood B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). While the translocation may initiate the leukemic process, critical secondary genetic events are currently believed to be pivotal for leukemogenesis. We investigated 12 cases of childhood ALL with TEL/AML1 gene fusion by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and documented additional or secondary genetic changes in seven patients (58%). Three patients showed extra copies of chromosome 21 including a case in which the trisomy 21 (+21) clone was distinct from the one harboring TEL/AML1 gene fusion. Interestingly, one patient without +21 showed amplification of the AML1 gene on chromosome 21q, supporting the contention that AML1 amplification may be an important additional genetic event. Gene expression study by semi-quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in two of these four patients showed an increase in AML1 transcripts that paralleled the increase in gene copy number. Deletion of the normal TEL allele was detected in two patients, with one of them showing loss of chromosome 12 together with duplication of the der(12)t(12;21). Finally, one patient showed duplication of the fusion signal. Our findings confirm that additional or secondary genetic changes including AML1 amplification are commonly encountered in childhood ALL with TEL/AML1 gene fusion, which are envisaged to play significant roles in disease progression.

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