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Am J Pathol. 1997 Oct;151(4):1067-74.

HOXC4, HOXC5, and HOXC6 expression in primary cutaneous lymphoid lesions. High expression of HOXC5 in anaplastic large-cell lymphomas.

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Department of Pathology, Vrije Universiteit Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Homeobox (HOX) genes are involved in the lineage-specific differentiation of bone marrow stem cells. Recently, we reported a largely similar expression pattern of HOXC4 and HOXC6 in normal and neoplastic cells of the lymphoid lineage. In contrast, HOXC5 was specifically expressed in a subset of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (B-NHL) but not in normal lymphocytes or lymphoid leukemias. This might suggest a role for HOXC5 in the pathogenesis of these lymphomas. In the present study the expression of HOXC4, HOXC5, and HOXC6 in primary cutaneous lymphomas was investigated. Using RNA in situ hybridization (RISH) and semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we found strong expression of HOXC4 and HOXC6 in all, except one, primary cutaneous lymphomas and all reactive cutaneous lymphoid infiltrates. Interestingly, a strong expression of HOXC5 in primary anaplastic CD30+ large T-cell lymphomas was found. RISH was consistently negative for HOXC5 in all other types of primary cutaneous B- and T-cell lymphomas. However, by semiquantitative RT-PCR these lymphomas showed a weak expression of HOXC5 mRNA. Therefore, we concluded that these lymphomas express low constitutive levels of HOXC5 mRNA. Furthermore, HOXC5 expression was consistently absent in reactive cutaneous lymphoid infiltrates, hyperplastic tonsils and lymph nodes, and peripheral blood lymphocytes either unstimulated or stimulated by a cocktail of CD3 and CD28 antibodies. As a strong expression of HOXC5 in primary cutaneous lymphomas was observed only in anaplastic large T-cell lymphomas and reactive control tissues lacked HOXC5 expression, these data strongly support a role for HOXC5 in the genesis of anaplastic large-T-cell lymphomas.

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