A nonrandom translocation between chromosomes 3 and 21, t(3;21)(q26.2;q22) has been detected in patients with a myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia after treatment (t-MDS/t-AML) for a primary malignant disease and in chronic myelogenous leukemia in blast crisis (CML-BC). In these patients, the breakpoint on chromosome 21 is at band 21q22. This band is also involved in the t(8;21)(q22;q22) detected in 40% of the patients with acute myeloid leukemia subtype M2 (AML-M2) de novo who have an abnormal karyotype. In the t(8;21), the AML1 gene is the site of the breakpoint on chromosome 21. The AML1 gene is transcribed from telomere to centromere, and in the t(8;21) the 5' part of AML1 is fused to the ETO gene on chromosome 8 to produce the chimeric AML1/ETO on the der(8) chromosome. We found that AML1 is also rearranged in two t-AML patients and in one CML-BC patient with the t(3;21), but the breakpoints are approximately 40 to 60 kb downstream to those of AML-M2 patients. This region contains at least one additional exon of AML1, as determined by using an AML1 cDNA as a probe in Southern blot analysis. The t(3;21) breakpoints for the remaining patients could not be determined because, by fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis, the breaks are outside of the region covered by the available probes.

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