Translocation (6;9)(p23;q34) is a cytogenetic aberration that can be found in specific subtypes of both acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). This translocation is associated with an unfavourable prognosis. Recently, the genes involved in the t(6;9) were isolated and characterized. Breakpoints in both the dek gene on chromosome 6 and the can gene on chromosome 9 appear to occur in defined regions, which allows us to diagnose this type of leukemia at the molecular level. Moreover, because of the translocation a chimeric dek-can mRNA is formed which, as we show here, is an additional target for diagnosis via cDNA-preparation and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We studied 17 patients whose blood cells and/or bone marrow cells showed a t(6;9) with karyotypic analysis. Fourteen patients suffered from AML, one patient had a refractory anemia with excess of blasts in transformation (RAEBt), one patient had an acute myelofibrosis (AMF), and one patient a chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). In nine cases studies at the DNA and RNA levels were possible while in seven cases only the DNA could be analyzed. In one case only RNA was available. Conventional Southern blot analysis showed the presence of rearrangements of both the dek gene and the can gene. In both genes, breakpoints cluster in one intron in the patients investigated. The presence of a consistent chimeric dek-can product after cDNA preparation followed by the PCR was demonstrated. We conclude from our data that the t(6;9) is found in myeloproliferative disorders with typical clinical characteristics. This translocation results in highly consistent abnormalities at the molecular level.

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