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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 1999 Jan;24(1):9-15.

High incidence of cryptic translocations involving the Ig heavy chain gene in multiple myeloma, as shown by fluorescence in situ hybridization.

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Laboratory of Hematology, University Hospital, Nantes, France.


Cytogenetic studies have shown rearrangements of the Ig heavy chain (IGH) gene at 14q32 in 10-60% of patients with multiple myeloma (MM) or primary plasma cell leukemia (PCL). Analysis of MM patients and human myeloma cell lines (HMCL) using interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and molecular techniques has shown IGH rearrangements in 75% of MM cases and in up to 100% of HMCL. A review of the literature revealed at least 18 different partner chromosomal regions. To investigate whether some of these translocations were recurrent and possibly to identify new partner regions, we developed a set of FISH probes to detect every IGH recombination. We analyzed 28 MM and 4 primary PCL patients with abnormal karyotypes and 12 HMCL. Whereas conventional cytogenetics detected a 14q32 abnormality in only 15% of the patients, FISH detected it in 47% of patients and in 75% of HMCL. The partner chromosome was identified in 10 of 15 patients with a 14q32 rearrangement. Interestingly, the same t(4; 14)(p16;q32) was detected in five patients and three HMCL, i.e., 33% of patients and HMCL with an IGH rearrangement. New partner chromosomal regions have also been identified, i.e., 9p13, 12p11, 12p13, and Xq28, besides the previously reported 8q24, 11q13, 12q24, and 16q24 rearrangements. The genes involved in these new translocations are not known, except for 9p13, where PAX5 was shown to be the partner gene. We conclude that: I) IGH recombinations are frequent but not constant in MM, 2) these rearrangements often occur through cryptic translocations, and 3) the t(4;14)(p16;q32) is one of the most frequent translocations, but many other chromosomal regions may be involved.

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