In order to study the pattern of B cell involvement in acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL), multiple B lymphoid cell lines were established by Epstein-Barr virus transformation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from two patients with the disease who were heterozygous for the X chromosome-linked glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). In one patient, the progenitor cells involved by the leukemia exhibited multipotent differentiative expression, whereas in the other patient the cells showed differentiative expression restricted to the granulocytic pathway. In the patient whose abnormal clone showed multipotent expression, the ratio of B-A G6PD in B lymphoid cell lines was skewed in the direction of type B (the enzyme characteristic of the leukemia clone) and significantly different from the 1:1 ratio expected. It is, therefore, likely that the neoplastic event occurred in a stem cell common to the lymphoid series as well as to the myeloid series. In contrast, evidence for B cell involvement was not detected in the patient whose ANLL progenitor cells exhibited restricted differentiative expression. These findings underscore the heterogeneity of ANLL. Clinically and morphologically similar malignancies in these two patients originated in progenitors with different patterns of stem cell differentiative expression. This difference may reflect differences in cause and pathogenesis.

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