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Blood. 2011 Nov 3;118(18):4902-9. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-04-350793. Epub 2011 Sep 9.

Enhanced levels of both the membrane-bound and soluble forms of IgM Fc receptor (FcμR) in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.


The association of an IgM-Fc receptor (FcμR) with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) was suggested more than 30 years ago, but its authenticity has never been formally addressed. We examined the expression of the recently identified FcμR by B and T cells in CLL patients using receptor-specific monoclonal antibodies. CLL B cells (CD5(+)/CD19(+)) expressed much higher levels of FcμR on their cell surface than B cells from healthy donors. Such enhanced expression was more evident in immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region (IGHV)-mutated, CD38(-) or early Rai-stage CLL than in IGHV-unmutated, CD38(+), or advanced Rai-stage CLL. Intriguingly, surface FcμR levels also were significantly elevated in the non-CLL B cells (CD5(-)/CD19(+)) and T cells (CD5(+)/CD19(-)), especially in IGHV-mutated CLL. CLL patients also had high serum titers of FcμR compared with healthy donors, and serum FcμR levels correlated significantly with circulating lymphocyte numbers but not with the IGHV mutation status or Rai stage. The serum FcμR was resolved as an ∼ 40-kDa protein, distinct from the cell surface FcμR of ∼ 60 kDa, and it was produced by both CLL B and non-CLL B cells. Mass spectrometric analysis revealed that the serum FcμR is a soluble form of the receptor encoded by an alternatively spliced FcμR transcript. These findings indicate enhanced levels of both membrane-bound and soluble forms of FcμR in CLL patients.

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