Expression of the ALK tyrosine kinase gene in neuroblastoma

Am J Pathol. 2000 May;156(5):1711-21. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65042-0.


ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) is a tyrosine kinase receptor, expressed as part of the chimeric NPM-ALK protein, in anaplastic large cell lymphomas (ALCLs) exhibiting the t(2;5)(p23;q35) translocation. As a result of this translocation, the NPM (nucleophosmin) gene is fused to the portion of the ALK gene encoding its intracytoplasmic segment. In normal mouse tissues, mRNA encoding the Alk receptor has been found only in neural cells, suggesting involvement of this receptor in the development of the nervous system. The purpose of the present study was to examine the presence of ALK transcripts and protein in normal human tissues and a variety of cell lines and human tumors. Emphasis was placed on neuroblastomas because other tyrosine kinase receptors are expressed in human neuroblastomas. Fifty-six cell lines, including 29 lines of neural origin, and lymphoid and nonlymphoid tissue specimens, including 24 neuroblastomas, were investigated for ALK expression, using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. The results confirmed that mRNA encoding ALK protein was not detectable in any normal or neoplastic hematopoietic tissue tested, except for t(2;5)-positive ALCL. The salient finding was that 13 of the 29 cell lines of neural origin and 22 of 24 neuroblastomas were found to express ALK transcripts and ALK protein. However, no correlation was evident between any known prognostic factors and the level of ALK expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Blotting, Western
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neuroblastoma / enzymology
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / isolation & purification
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • RNA, Messenger
  • ALK protein, human
  • Alk protein, mouse
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases