The presence of BCR-ABL fusion genes has important diagnostic and prognostic implications in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The CML-specific chimeric BCR-ABL gene with a break involving the major breakpoint cluster region (M-bcr) of the BCR-gene has been detected by means of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). In this study, we present a FISH protocol that allows the detection of breaks in both the major and the minor breakpoint cluster region (m-bcr). Three hybridization signals of D107F9, a yeast artificial chromosome (YAC)-derived probe spanning the breakpoint regions of the BCR gene, were indicative of the translocation events. To increase the specificity further, this probe was combined with cos-abl 8, a cosmid probe flanking the breakpoint within the ABL gene for dual-color hybridization. Samples of 21 patients with CML, the ALL-derived cell line SUP-B15, and of seven patients with Philadelphia chromosome (Ph1)-positive ALL (three of them with breakpoints within m-bcr) were examined. BCR-ABL fusion was detected in all cases with high specificity (false-positive nuclei: mean, 0.1%). On cytogenetic preparations, the percentages of BCR-ABL- positive interphase cells ranged from 53% to 91%. Comparable efficiencies were achieved on blood smears. In conclusion, hybridization with D107F9 and cos-abl 8 allows unambiguous diagnosis of BCR-ABL genes and is likely to become an important tool for the monitoring of therapies in patients with CML and ALL.

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