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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Feb;82(4):1224-7.

Somatic rearrangement of T-cell antigen receptor gene in human T-cell malignancies.


A cDNA clone representing the gene encoding the beta chain of the human T-cell antigen receptor has been isolated recently. By using fragments of this cDNA as hybridization probes in Southern blot analysis of restriction endonuclease-digested genomic DNA, we have now examined the structure of the gene in DNA from 26 patients with acute leukemia and from 23 normal individuals. We have found that the T-cell antigen receptor gene has undergone somatic rearrangement in 14 of 14 patients with the phenotypic diagnosis of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In this group of patients, similar patterns of rearrangement appear to occur in different patients. This finding suggests that there is either a limited repertoire of possible rearrangements or an association between the development of leukemia and specific patterns of rearrangement. DNA from 6 patients with acute myeloblastic leukemia, 6 patients with non-B, non-T acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and 23 nonleukemic individuals showed no rearrangement or polymorphism. One case of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, however, showed rearrangement of both the T-cell receptor beta chain and the constant region of the immunoglobulin gene. Studies with mixtures of DNAs from leukemic bone marrow cells and cultured skin fibroblasts, as well as with remission and relapse marrow DNAs from the same patients, indicate that this technique can detect 1% leukemic cells in a mixed population. In addition, DNA from the marrow of a patient in relapse contains a similar rearrangement to that found in the marrow sample taken at the time of diagnosis, which suggests that the original clone of leukemic cells was responsible for relapse. Our results indicate that assessment of rearrangement of the T-cell antigen receptor gene will be valuable in the diagnosis and management of leukemia and can be used to evaluate clonality in T-cell neoplasia.

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