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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Conversion of acute undifferentiated leukemia phenotypes: analysis of clonal development.

The cellular origin of acute undifferentiated leukemia (AUL) is still a matter of controversy. We report on two cases in which the diagnosis of AUL was established according to restricted criteria. Blast cells of both patients showed phenotypic conversion during the course of disease. In one case, within 24 days from starting treatment, the leukemic phenotype changed from AUL to acute myelomonocytic leukemia ( FAB L1, TdT+ to FAB M4, TdT-). The initial phenotype of this acute leukemia was characterized by the co-expression of both B-lymphoid and myeloid markers on the same cell. Moreover, analysis of esterase isoenzyme pattern showed the whole spectrum of isoenzymes typically seen in myelomonocytic leukemias already at diagnosis, yet blast cells additionally contained all three isoenzymes of beta-hexosaminidase typically seen in AUL. However, examination of immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain gene rearrangement initially and after conversion revealed an identical monoclonal configuration of Ig heavy chain sequences in both samples. The second AUL patient relapsed after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation with common ALL-antigen (CALLA) positive acute leukemia. Subsequent Southern blot analysis showed a novel rearranged Ig fragment compared to the analysis before transplantation indicating that the leukemic clones prior to and after transplantation were not identical. No chromosomal abnormalities were observed in both cases. These data support the view that AUL cells originate from a pluripotent stem cell that is capable to differentiate in the myelomonocytic lineage (patient 1), and confirm the value of Ig gene analysis as marker for cellular clonality.[1]


  1. Conversion of acute undifferentiated leukemia phenotypes: analysis of clonal development. Raghavachar, A., Bartram, C.R., Gaedicke, G., Binder, T., Heil, G., Carbonell, F., Kubanek, B., Kleihauer, E. Leuk. Res. (1986) [Pubmed]
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