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Br J Haematol. 2002 Jan;116(1):87-93.

The TEL-AML1 real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) might replace the antigen receptor-based genomic PCR in clinical minimal residual disease studies in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

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Central Laboratory of the Netherlands Blood Transfusion Service and Laboratory of Experimental and Clinical Immunology, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Prospective studies in children with B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) have shown that polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) using immunoglobin (Ig) and T-cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangements as targets can be used to identify patients with a high relapse risk. The disadvantage of this approach is that for each patient preferably two different targets have to be identified. The t(12;21)(p13;q22) with the TEL-AML1 fusion gene is present in approximately 25% of children with B-precursor ALL. In these patients, sensitive reverse transcription (RT)-PCR analysis of the TEL-AML1 fusion transcript might be a more simple and less laborious alternative approach. However, it is unknown how stable the mRNA is and whether the number of transcripts per leukaemic cell remains constant during follow-up. We investigated whether the MRD results obtained using RT-PCR of TEL-AML1 transcripts correlated with the clinically validated genomic PCR for Ig and TCR gene rearrangements. Therefore, we used real-time quantitative (RQ)-PCR analysis for both types of targets and assessed the MRD levels in 36 follow-up bone marrow samples (obtained during the first 1.5 years after diagnosis) from 13 patients with B-precursor ALL. In 34/36 bone marrow samples the Ig/TCR RQ-PCR and TEL-AML1 RQ-PCR revealed equal levels of MRD and these results had a strong correlation (P < 0.0001, R2 = 0.84). Therefore, we conclude that the TEL-AML1 RQ-PCR can, in principle, replace Ig/TCR RQ-PCR in B-precursor ALL with t(12;21).

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