Background: The breakpoints in the cytogenetic lesion in Burkitts lymphoma are very far apart such that the t(8,14)9q24;q32) is not amenable to standard polymerase chain reaction analysis. Long range polymerase chain reaction (LD-PCR) with its enzyme mix, appears to be capable of amplifying the t (8;14)(q24;32) in the majority of published sporadic Burkitts lymphoma analyses. The utility of t(8;14)(q24;q32) LD-PCR for routine use in the diagnosis of African and AIDS-related Burkitts lymphoma has not been studied. This study aims to analyze bone marrow of known African and AIDS-related Burkitts Lymphomas using LD-PCR and to establish if this procedure is suitable for routine diagnostic use.

Materials and methods: High molecular weight DNA was extracted from stored unstained bone marrow slides of previously diagnosed Burkitts lymphoma. Three hundred nanograms of patient and control DNA were amplified as per published LD-PCR methods. Each DNA sample was amplified with up to three pairs of MYC/IgH primer sets. The resulting amplicons were separated on a 0.8% agarose gel and their size compared to that of positive t(8;14)(q24;q32) controls, tPa controls and molecular weight markers.

Results: DNA was extracted from 74 Burkitts lymphoma bone marrow slides. Only 41 of these were amplifiable with the tPa primers and therefore suitable for further analysis. A t(8;14)(q24;q32) specific product was demonstrable in only 6 of 41 patients.

Conclusion: In this t(8;14)(q24;32) LD-PCR analysis of known Burkitts lymphomas comprising largely of African and AIDS-related variants, the procedure appears to be labour intensive and costly with a low diagnostic yield. These results may reflect the fundamental molecular differences between the sporadic and African or AIDS-related Burkitts lymphomas.

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