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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Nov;86(22):8907-11.

Molecular resemblance of an AIDS-associated lymphoma and endemic Burkitt lymphomas: implications for their pathogenesis.

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  • 1Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology, Philadelphia, PA 19140.


Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a common feature of AIDS. Approximately 30-40% of these tumors exhibit clinical features suggestive of endemic Burkitt lymphoma: they are aggressive malignancies that occur in association with Epstein-Barr virus infection, they arise in the setting of immunosuppression, and they carry t(8;14) translocations without detectable rearrangement of the MYC oncogene. To understand the molecular basis of these parallels, we analyzed a case of Epstein-Barr-positive AIDS-associated undifferentiated lymphoma. Southern blots show that the tumor exhibits immunoglobulin joining segment rearrangement but no rearrangement of the MYC oncogene. Cloning of the rearranged joining segment allowed the isolation of recombinant clones encompassing the translocation breakpoint, and sequencing of the translocation junction disclosed that the breakpoint is situated 7 base pairs from the chromosome 14 site involved in a previously described endemic Burkitt lymphoma translocation. Furthermore, the breakpoint is situated far from MYC on chromosome 8, a constant finding in endemic Burkitt lymphomas. That the molecular architecture of the translocation in this case is strikingly similar to previously analyzed translocations from endemic Burkitt lymphomas strongly suggests that common molecular mechanisms must be operative in the pathogenesis of these tumors.

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