Expression of BCR-ABL, E2A-PBX1, and MLL-AF4 fusion transcripts in newly diagnosed children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia: A Children's Cancer Group initiative
Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl
Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma
We used reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays to examine primary leukemic cells in on-study diagnostic bone marrow specimens from 642 children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) for the expression of MLL-AF4, E2A-PBX1, and BCR-ABL fusion transcripts. All PCR assays were performed centrally in the Children's Cancer Group ALL Biology Reference Laboratory. MLL-AF4 transcript was found in only 0.7% of the study population which excluded infants. E2A-PBX1 transcript was found in 2.5% of the study population and 3.3% of B-precursor cases. Expression was associated with massive hepatomegaly. BCR-ABL transcript was found in 2.3% of cases and correlated with older age, induction failure, and inferior event-free survival (EFS). RT-PCR assays allow rapid identification of patients with MLL-AF4 and BCR-ABL positive ALL. These patients have a poor outcome with contemporary therapy and rapid identification facilitates timely allocation to innovative treatment programs.