Chromosomal rearrangements involving the MLL gene have been associated with many different types of hematological malignancies. Fluorescent in situ hybridization with a panel of probes coupled with long distance inverse-PCR was used to identify chromosomal rearrangements involving the MLL gene. Between 1995 and 2010, 27 patients with an acute leukemia were found to have a fusion gene involving MLL. All seven ALL patients with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia were characterized by the MLL/AFF1 fusion gene resulting from a translocation (5 patients) or an insertion (2 patients). In the 19 AML patients with acute myeloblastic leukemia, 31.6% of all characterized MLL fusion genes were MLL/MLLT3, 21.1% MLL/ELL, 10.5% MLL/MLLT6 and 10.5% MLL/EPS15. Two patients had rare or undescribed fusion genes, MLL/KIAA0284 and MLL/FLNA. Seven patients (26%) had a complex chromosomal rearrangement (three-way translocations, insertions, deletions) involving the MLL gene. Splicing fusion genes were found in three patients, leading to a MLL/EPS15 fusion in two and a MLL/ELL fusion in a third patient. This study showed that fusion involving the MLL gene can be generated through various chromosomal rearrangements such as translocations, insertions and deletions, some being complex or cryptic. A systematic approach should be used in all cases of acute leukemia starting with FISH analyses using a commercially available MLL split signal probe. Then, the analysis has to be completed, if necessary, by further molecular cytogenetic and genomic PCR methods.
Copyright © 2011 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.