TEL (ETV6)-AML1 (RUNX1) chimeric gene fusion is the most common genetic abnormality in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL). Evidence suggests that this chimeric gene fusion usually occurs in utero during fetal hematopoiesis and most probably constitutes an initiating or first-hit mutation that is necessary but insufficient for the development of overt, clinical leukemia. In a search for additional secondary and postnatal genetic events that could be linked to leukemia development, we applied a genome- wide array- CGH technique to 24 TEL-AML1 leukemia samples and two cell lines (REH, KOPN41) and found that at least three chromosomal imbalances were involved in all patient samples and cell lines. Recurrent regions of chromosomal imbalances (found in > 10% of clinical samples) were gain of chromosomes 10 (17 %) and 21q (25 %) and loss of chromosomes 2p11 (100 %), 12p13.2 (87 %), 9p21.3 (29 %), 9p13.2 (25 %), 12q21.3, (25 %), 3p21 (21 %), 6q21 (17 %), 4q31.23 (17 %), 11q22-q23 (13 %) and 19q13.11-q13.12 (13 %). The two cell lines showed gain of 21q22.12-qter and loss of 2p11.2, 9p21.3, 12p13.2, and 12q21.3. Among these, six regions of loss (2p11, 3p21, 4q31.23, 9p13.2, 12q21.3 and 19q13.12) have not been identified previously by conventional CGH in TEL-AML1 leukemia. Representative genes involved in the regions of loss were Igkappa (2p11), TEL (12p13.2), p16INK4a/ARF (9p21.3), Pax5 (9p13.2), BTG1 (12q21.3), LIMD1 (3p21), AIM1 and BLIMP1 (6q21), NR3C2 (4q31.23), ATM (11q22-q23), and PDCD5 (19q13.11-q13.12), while the region of gain at 21q contained RUNX1. These findings suggest that, in addition to TEL previously reported as deleted, genes involved in cell cycle regulation, p53 pathways and apoptosis are also often deleted. Our array-CGH obtained data may provide further insights into the molecular basis for the development of TEL-AML1 leukemia.

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