Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a pluripotent haematopoietic stem cell disorder characterized by the expression of the BCR/ABL1 fusion gene, which commonly results from formation of the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph) after a t(9;22)(q34;q11) or related variant rearrangement. BCR/ABL1 is a constitutively activated tyrosine kinase and its amplification has been described in association with resistance to imatinib in CML patients. BAC array CGH analysis on CML patients and CML cell lines (Brazma et al., 2007) revealed unexpected genomic imbalances in form of duplications and high copy number gains affecting the region immediately downstream of the ABL1 gene at the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome in patients at the blast crisis stage. We aimed to confirm and map these amplifications by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on 19 CML patients in accelerated phase/blast crisis and 10 CML cell lines (KU812, K562, MEG-01, MC3, BV173, EM-2, LAMA-84, KCL-22, JK-1 and CML-T1) with more than 1 copy of the BCR/ABL1 fusion gene. We used a range of BAC probes and 9q and 22q sub-telomeric probes in order to do the FISH mapping. While the majority of the analysed patients and cell lines (12/19 patients and 6/10 CML cell lines) had 2 identical Ph chromosomes, 2 main groups of abnormalities were identified. Firstly, gains of the Ph chromosome taking the form of ider(22)t(9;22) chromosome were detected in 1 or more copies in a subset of bone marrow cells of 5/19 patients and, secondly, high copy number gains were seen in 2/19 patients and 2/10 cell lines (K562 and KU812). The amplified region was variable in size spanning from 400 Kb up to 1.5 Mb downstream of the ABL1 gene. In 1 patient, 7 different cell sub-clones harbouring increasing levels of amplification were found. The gains resulted in formation of different chromosome structures-from an ider(22)t(9;22) to markers with tandem amplifications, which included the BCR/ABL1 fusion with variable in length sequences downstream of the ABL1. Duplication of some 571 Kb downstream of ABL1 was also detected in 1 of the 2 apparently normal Ph chromosomes in the MC3 cell line, while a larger duplication (5.16 Mb) was found in another cell line (MEG-01). These findings confirm the presence of duplications and high level amplifications at the der(22) t(9;22) in CML patients and that the sequences involved are variable in length, indicating that the Ph chromosome is an unstable structure and vulnerable to further rearrangements during disease progression.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes

Corresponding author