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Br J Haematol. 2012 Oct;159(1):50-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2012.09248.x. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Multiple clonal MLL fusions in a patient receiving CHOP-based chemotherapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California Davis, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


MLL rearrangements were analysed in the blood of a patient receiving chemotherapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma using inverse polymerase chain reaction targeting exon 12, parallel sequencing and a custom algorithm design. Of thirteen MLL rearrangements detected, five were capable of generating MLL fusion genes, including MLL-MLLT3, the most common fusion in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Other fusions, all previously clinically unobserved, included MLL-NKD1, a fusion to the negative regulator of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, a pathway linked to leukaemic cell proliferation. The majority of the fusions exhibited clonal persistence from before treatment until 6 months post-chemotherapy, suggesting the fusions may confer a survival advantage to the mutant clone. MLL breakpoints were partly clustered at a specific location, indicating commonality in the process of their formation. Further, the same MLL breakpoint location exhibited a 50-100-fold increase in C to T transitions, consistent with attack by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AICDA). As is also observed in AML and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, in this single patient setting, MLL is capable of interacting with multiple fusion partners. This finding defines a discrete site of MLL susceptibility to fragmentation, linked to possible deregulation of AICDA function.

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