Many chronic lymphocytic leukemia antibodies recognize apoptotic cells with exposed nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIA: implications for patient outcome and cell of origin

Blood. 2010 May 13;115(19):3907-15. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-09-244251. Epub 2010 Jan 28.


Many B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) can be grouped into subsets based on nearly identical stereotyped sequences. Subset 6 CLL mAbs recognize nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIA (MYHIIA). Herein, we report that during apoptosis, MYHIIA becomes exposed on the cell surface of a subgroup of apoptotic cells, allowing subset 6 CLL mAbs to bind with it. Because other non-subset 6 CLL mAbs interact with apoptotic cells, 26 CLL mAbs, including 24 not belonging to subset 6, were tested for reactivity with MYHIIA-exposed apoptotic cells (MEACs). More than 60% of CLL mAbs bound MEACs well; most of these mAbs expressed unmutated IGHV (15 of 16) and belonged to a stereotyped subset (14 of 16). Binding to MEACs inversely correlated with the degree of IGHV mutation. Interestingly, high binding to MEACs significantly correlated with poor patient survival, suggesting that the basis of IGHV mutation status as a CLL prognostic factor reflects antigen binding. Finally, natural antibodies from human serum also reacted with MEACs. Taken together, our data indicate that a large proportion of CLL clones emerge from natural antibody-producing cells expressing immunoglobulins that recognize MEACs, and that this reactivity is associated with poor clinical outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / immunology
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIA / immunology*
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate


  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIA