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N Engl J Med. 1985 Sep 26;313(13):776-83.

Rearrangements of genes for the antigen receptor on T cells as markers of lineage and clonality in human lymphoid neoplasms.


The T alpha and T beta chains of the heterodimeric T-lymphocyte antigen receptor are encoded by separated DNA segments that recombine during T-cell development. We have used rearrangements of the T beta gene as a widely applicable marker of clonality in the T-cell lineage. We show that the T beta genes are used in both the T8 and T4 subpopulations of normal T cells and that S├ęzary leukemia, adult T-cell leukemia, and the non-B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemias are clonal expansions of T cells. Furthermore, circulating T cells from a patient with the T8-cell-predominantly lymphocytosis associated with granulocytopenia are shown to be monoclonal. Finally, the sensitivity and specificity of this tumor-associated marker have been exploited to monitor the therapy of a patient with adult T-cell leukemia. These unique DNA rearrangements provide insights into the cellular origin, clonality, and natural history of T-cell neoplasia.

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