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Leukemia. 2002 Apr;16(4):658-68.

AML1 gene over-expression in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt.


The present study was conducted on a series of 41 Egyptian children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) to investigate TEL and AML1 abnormalities. The TEL-AML1 fusion was observed in six patients both by RT-PCR and FISH analyses, with a frequency of 22.2% among the B-lineage group, whereas TEL deletion was seen by FISH analysis in seven patients (17.1%). By FISH analysis, nine patients (22%) showed evidence of extra AML1 copies. In five of these patients the extra copies were due to non-constitutional trisomy 21, whereas in the remaining four cases they were due to tandem AML1 copies on der(21), as evidenced by metaphase FISH. Unexpectedly however, enhanced AML1 expression levels were seen by real-time quantitative RT-PCR in 18 out of the 41 ALL patients (43.9%). This high level of AML1 expression could be an important factor contributing to the pathogenesis and progression of childhood ALL. One key mechanism for over-expression seems to be the extra copies of AML1, but other mechanisms may involve an alteration of the activity of the AML1 promoter. Here, we also report two novel findings. The first is an intragenic deletion of TEL exon 7 in a case of T cell ALL. This deletion creates a frame-shift and results in a truncated protein lacking the C-terminus that includes the ETS domain. This shorter TEL is presumably unable to bind DNA. The second finding is a rearrangement of AML1 in a case of T cell ALL due to t(4;21)(q31;q22). This is the first reported chromosomal translocation where AML1is rearranged in childhood T cell ALL.

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