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Leukemia. 1995 Aug;9(8):1305-12.

Molecular analysis of 13 cases of MLL/11q23 secondary acute leukemia and identification of topoisomerase II consensus-binding sequences near the chromosomal breakpoint of a secondary leukemia with the t(4;11).

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Rearrangements of the MLL (Mixed Lineage Leukemia) gene in the human 11q23 cytogenetic locus have been detected in secondary (therapy-related) acute leukemias in patients who have received topoisomerase II inhibitors for prior, independent neoplasms. The topoisomerase II inhibitors implicated in MLL/11q23 secondary leukemias all inhibit the religation step of reaction catalyzed by topoisomerase II. This results in the stabilization of a 'cleavable complex' with double-strand DNA breaks at the point of topoisomerase II binding. This raises the possibility that the cleavable complex participates in the translocation process in MLL/11q23 secondary leukemias. Here we report that the MLL/11q23 breakpoints in 13/13 patients with secondary leukemia map to the same breakpoint cluster region (bcr) noted in de novo MLL/11q23 acute leukemias and the presence of in vivo topoisomerase II inhibitor-induced cleavage sites in MLL/11q23 bcr. We have also cloned and sequenced the breakpoint from a MLL/11q23 secondary acute leukemia. This analysis revealed sequences similar to the consensus sequence for vertebrate topoisomerase II binding and cleavage close to the 11q23 and 4q21 breakpoints. These results support a role for topoisomerase II in mechanism generating translocations in MLL/11q23 secondary acute leukemia.

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