Association of PML-RARα fusion mRNA type with pretreatment hematologic characteristics but not treatment outcome in acute promyelocytic leukemia: An intergroup molecular study
Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute
Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
In each case of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) one of three PML-RAR alpha mRNA types is produced, depending on the break/fusion site in the PML gene that is linked to a common RAR alpha gene segment: a short (S)-form type, PML exon 3 RAR alpha exon 3; a long (L)-form type, PML exon 6 RAR alpha exon 3; or a variable (V)-form type, variably deleted PML exon 6 RAR alpha exon 3. We evaluated whether PML-RAR alpha mRNA type is associated with distinct pretreatment clinical characteristics and therapeutic outcome in previously untreated adult APL patients registered to protocol INT 0129 by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, the Southwest Oncology Group, and the Cancer and Leukemia Group B. Of 279 clinically eligible cases, 230 were molecularly evaluable, and of these, 111 were randomized to receive remission induction therapy with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and 119 with conventional chemotherapy. Nine cases not excluded by central pathology review were PML-RAR alpha negative, and notably, none of five of these cases treated with ATRA achieved complete remission (CR). Among 221 PML-RAR alpha-positive cases, there were 82 S-form cases (37%), 121 L-form cases (55%), and 18 V-form cases (8%). Before any antileukemic therapy, the S-form type, compared with the L-form type, was associated with higher values for the white blood cell (WBC) count (median 2,500/microL v 1,600/microL; P = .009), the percentage of blood blasts plus promyelocytes (median 29% v 8.5%; P = .03), and the absolute blood blasts plus promyelocytes (884/microL v 126/microL; P = .019). Also, an increased percentage of S-form versus L-form cases had the M3 variant phenotype, 24% v 12% (P = .036). There were no differences between S-form and L-form cases in either CR rate (79% v 69%; P = .14) or disease free survival distribution (multivariate analysis adjusting for the association of S-form type and higher WBC count; P = .40). We conclude that the S-form type is associated with previously-identified adverse risk WBC parameters but that the identification of the S-form or L-form type of PML-RAR alpha mRNA, per se, does not predict clinical outcome or add to the value of an increased WBC count as a negative prognostic indicator in APL patients.