We analyzed the gene rearrangements associated with the newly described delta T-cell receptor (TCR) gene from a series of 19 consecutive precursor T-cell (lymphoblastic) neoplasms that represent discrete stages surrounding the TCR gene rearrangement process. Significantly, the delta TCR gene showed rearrangement in most (13 of 19) of these T cells, and in addition it was rearranged in two cells displaying no rearrangement for any other TCR gene. Our survey showed three types of delta gene rearrangements associated with cell-surface TCR expression that presumably represent usage of three V delta genes. This analysis demonstrates (1) a major subclass of human precursor T-cell neoplasms belonging to the gamma/delta T-cell receptor-rearranging subtype; (2) a narrow repertoire of human V delta gene usage; and (3) the utility of delta gene rearrangements as a diagnostic clonal marker in precursor T lymphoblastic neoplasms.

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