Chromosome 12q24.1 is a recurrent breakpoint in high-grade B-cell non- Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL). To identify the genes involved at 12q24.1, molecular cloning of a three-way translocation t(8;14;12)(q24.1;q32.3;q24.1) in a Burkitt lymphoma cell line (Wien 133) was performed; all four translocation breakpoints were cloned and sequenced. Analysis of clones encompassing the der(12)(12;14)(q24.1;q32.3) breakpoint showed a CpG island from chromosome 12q24.1 juxtaposed in a tail-to-tail configuration with a productively rearranged Ig VH4-DH-JH5 gene. A total of 4.5 kb of genomic DNA including the CpG island was sequenced and analyzed using gene-identification programs; all three programs identified a potential 92-bp exon within the centromeric boundary of the CpG island. Using this as a probe, an RNA transcript of 3.8 kb, expressed at low levels in a wide variety of normal tissues, was detected. Overlapping cDNA clones were isolated and sequenced. The longest open-reading frame predicted a serine-rich protein of 231 amino acids. This protein, termed BCL7A, exhibited no recognizable protein motifs but showed homology with the actin-binding protein, caldesmon. In Wien 133, the BCL7A breakpoint occurred within the first intron and resulted in a MYC- BCL7A fusion transcript, with exon I of BCL7A being replaced by MYC exon I. The normal, untranslocated allele of BCL7A was also expressed without mutation. One of the 11 other B-NHL cell lines examined with 12q24.1 cytogenetic abnormalities, a mediastinal B-NHL cell line (Karpas 1106), showed biallelic rearrangement within the first intron of BCL7A, which was adjacent to the breakpoint observed in Wien 133. Disruption of the amino-terminus of BCL7A defines a new mechanism in the pathogenesis of a subset of high-grade B-NHL.

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