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Blood. 2002 Aug 1;100(3):1014-8.

Several types of mutations of the Abl gene can be found in chronic myeloid leukemia patients resistant to STI571, and they can pre-exist to the onset of treatment.

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  • 1Unité Inserm U524, Lille, France.


Targeting the tyrosine kinase activity of BCR-ABL represents a very promising therapeutic strategy in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Despite strong efficacy of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor STI571, resistance has been observed in a significant proportion of patients in advanced CML stage or in Ph-positive acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL). We investigated in this study the mechanism of resistance to STI571 through point mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain and/or BCR-ABL gene amplification in 24 patients (16 in chronic phase and 8 in accelerated phase of the disease) who obtained no cytogenetic response to STI571 treatment. Screening for the already-described Thr315Ile point mutation in the ABL domain using a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length polymorphism (RT-PCR-RFLP) technique, 3 patients showed a proportion of mutated transcript at the time of resistance. The same technique failed to detect mutation at diagnosis, but a specific allele-specific oligonucleotide (ASO)-PCR on DNA for the Thr315Ile mutation and, after sequencing, for 2 newly described Phe311Leu and Met351Thr substitutions, showed the presence of rare mutated cells prior to STI571 therapy. Furthermore, the increased proportion of mutated cells during treatment detected by ASO-PCR strongly suggested clonal selection by the functional inhibiting effect of these mutations. Finally, no BCR-ABL gene amplification was detected by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) in the 24 STI571-resistant patients. Our data support that in CML patients treated with STI571, ABL mutations are not restricted to the accelerated phase of the disease and that, at least in some cases, mutations seem to occur prior to STI571 therapy, probably as second mutational events during the course of CML.

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