Background: Rapid identification of diverse fusion genes with involvement of PDGFRA or PDGFRB in eosinophilia-associated myeloproliferative neoplasms is essential for adequate clinical management but is complicated by the multitude and heterogeneity of partner genes and breakpoints.
Design and methods: We established a generic quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction to detect overexpression of the 3'-regions of PDGFRA or PDGFRB as a possible indicator of an underlying fusion.
Results: At diagnosis, all patients with known fusion genes involving PDGFRA (n=5; 51 patients) or PDGFRB (n=5; 7 patients) showed significantly increased normalized expression levels compared to 191 patients with fusion gene-negative eosinophilia or healthy individuals (PDGFRA/ABL: 0.73 versus 0.0066 versus 0.0064, P<0.0001; PDGFRB/ABL: 196 versus 3.8 versus 5.85, P<0.0001). The sensitivity and specificity of the activation screening test were, respectively, 100% and 88.4% for PDGFRA and 100% and 94% for PDGFRB. Furthermore, significant overexpression of PDGFRB was found in a patient with an eosinophilia-associated myeloproliferative neoplasm with uninformative cytogenetics and an excellent response to imatinib. Subsequently, a new SART3-PDGFRB fusion gene was identified by 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends polymerase chain reaction (5'-RACE-PCR).
Conclusions: Quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis is a simple and useful adjunct to standard diagnostic assays to detect clinically significant overexpression of PDGFRA and PDGFRB in eosinophilia-associated myeloproliferative neoplasms or related disorders.