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Br J Haematol. 2009 Feb;144(4):492-506. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.07469.x. Epub 2008 Nov 19.

Molecular and clinical features of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia with stereotyped B cell receptors: results from an Italian multicentre study.

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Clinical and Experimental Onco-Haematology Unit, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, I.R.C.C.S., Aviano (PN), Italy.


A fraction of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) cases carry highly homologous B-cell receptors (BCR), i.e. characterized by non-random combinations of immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable (IGHV) genes and heavy-chain complementarity determining region-3 (HCDR3), often associated with a restricted selection of IGVK/L light chains. Such 'stereotyped' BCR occur more frequently in CLL with unmutated (UM) than mutated (M) IGHV genes. We analysed 1426 IG rearrangements (from 1398 CLL cases) by a clustering driven by HCDR3 similarities. Molecular findings were correlated to time-to-treatment (TTT) and presence of known prognosticators. Sixty-nine clusters (319 IG-rearrangements, 22.4%) with stereotyped BCR were identified. Among 30 confirmed clusters (>or=3 IG-rearrangements/cluster), we found 14 novel clusters, of which 11 had M IG rearrangements (M clusters) and predominantly (8/11) used IGHV3 subgroup genes. Recurrent cluster-biased amino acid changes were found throughout IGHV sequences of these 'M clusters'. Regarding clinical outcome: (i) UM CLL from the IGHV1-2/1-3/1-18/1-46/7-4-1/IGKV1-39 cluster had poorer prognosis than UM/M cases, or UM cases using the same IGHV genes but not in clusters; (ii) M CLL from the IGHV3-21/IGLV3-21 cluster had TTT similar to UM CLL, and shorter than M CLL expressing IGHV3-21 but not in cluster. Altogether, our analysis identified additional molecular and clinical features for CLL expressing stereotyped BCR.

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