Protein tyrosine kinase-7 (PTK7) was recently identified as a surface protein expressed on hematopoietic cells. To determine if PTK7 is a useful biomarker in clinical practice for acute leukemia immunophenotyping and detection, we examined the PTK7 expression in human bone marrow and thymic specimens. Our results show that PTK7 expression in normal thymic T cells is tightly regulated during the maturational process, but in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) the expected temporal relationship of expression between PTK7 and other maturational T cell markers is lost or disrupted. In addition, nearly all T-ALL cases expressed higher PTK7 levels than mature T cells in the human bone marrow specimens. Therefore, in conjunction with other T cell markers, PTK7 has utility as a biomarker for detecting minimal residual disease of T-ALL in the bone marrow.
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