DNA polymerase μ gene expression in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas: An analysis utilizing in situ hybridization
DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
DNA polymerase mu (pol mu) is a novel error-prone DNA repair enzyme bearing significant structural homology with terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase. Whereas other human error-prone DNA polymerases identified thus far show no preferential lymphoid tissue distribution, the highest levels of pol mu mRNA have been detected in peripheral lymphoid tissues, particularly germinal center B cells. Conceivably, up-regulation of the pol mu gene may be biologically significant in lymphomagenesis, especially in the development of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (B-NHLs), because of enhanced error-prone DNA repair activities. To explore this possibility, we generated a digoxigenin-labeled riboprobe to pol mu mRNA and used the probe and in situ hybridization to examine the expression pattern of the pol mu gene in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections of 37 B-NHLs. This included eight chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphomas, six mantle cell lymphomas, seven follicular lymphomas, nine diffuse large B-cell lymphomas, three splenic marginal zone lymphomas, two Burkitt's lymphomas, and two precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphomas. We also correlated the pol mu mRNA expression levels with the tumor proliferation index, which was assessed in each case by image analysis of Ki-67 immunostained slides. Nineteen of 21 (90%) B-NHLs arising from postgerminal center B cells (follicular lymphomas, diffuse large B-cell lymphomas, splenic marginal zone lymphomas, and Burkitt's lymphomas) exhibited high expression of pol mu mRNA. In contrast, only 2 of 16 (13%) B-NHLs arising from pregerminal center B cells (chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphomas, mantle cell lymphomas, and precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphomas) expressed significant levels of pol mu mRNA. Pol mu gene expression did not seem to correlate with the proliferation index, especially because a significant level of pol mu mRNA was not detected in either case of precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphomas. In conclusion, pol mu gene expression is highly associated with B-NHLs of postgerminal center B-cell derivation. Furthermore, the expression level is independent of the proliferation rate and thus is unrelated to the biological aggressiveness of the tumors. These findings, along with the error-prone nature of the enzyme, suggest that up-regulation of pol mu gene expression may be a contributing factor to the pathogenesis of a subset of B-NHLs through DNA repair-associated genomic instability.