Translocations involving anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)

Oncogene. 2001 Sep 10;20(40):5623-37. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204594.


Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) comprises a group of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs) that were first described in 1985 by Stein and co-workers and are characterized by the expression of the CD30/Ki-1 antigen (Stein et al., 1985). Approximately half of these lymphomas are associated with a typical chromosomal translocation, t(2;5)(p23;q35). Much confusion about the exact classification and clinicopathological features of this subgroup of NHL was clarified with the identification of NPM-ALK (nucleophosmin-anaplastic lymphoma kinase) as the oncogene created by the t(2;5) (Morris et al., 1994). With the discovery of NPM-ALK as the specific lymphoma gene mutation, this NHL subtype could be redefined on the molecular level. This achievement was enhanced by the availability of specific antibodies that recognize ALK fusion proteins in paraffin-embedded lymphoma tissues. Several excellent recent reviews have summarized the histopathological and molecular findings of ALCL and their use in the classification of this lymphoma entity (Anagnostopoulos and Stein, 2000; Benharroch et al., 1998; Drexler et al., 2000; Foss et al., 2000; Gogusev and Nezelof, 1998; Kadin and Morris, 1998; Ladanyi, 1997; Morris et al., 2001; Shiota and Mori, 1996; Skinnider et al., 1999; Stein et al., 2000). This review will focus on the molecular function and signal transduction pathways activated by ALK fusion oncogenes, with recent advances and possible clinical implications to be discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Translocation, Genetic*


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