Detection of Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain Gene Clonality by Next-Generation Sequencing for Minimal Residual Disease Monitoring in B-Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Ann Lab Med. 2017 Jul;37(4):331-335. doi: 10.3343/alm.2017.37.4.331.


Minimal residual disease (MRD) following B-lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) treatment has gained prognostic importance. Clonal immunoglobulin heavy chain (IGH) gene rearrangement is a useful follow-up marker in B-ALL owing to its high positivity rate. We evaluated the performance and clinical applicability of a next-generation sequencing (NGS) assay for IGH rearrangement in B-ALL MRD monitoring. IGH rearrangement was tested by using fluorescence PCR-fragment analysis and the NGS assay in eight B-ALL patients. The NGS assay was run on two platforms: the Ion Torrent PGM (Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA) (18 samples from 1st to 7th patients) and the MiSeq system (Illumina, USA) (four samples from 8th patient). All initial diagnostic samples and four follow-up samples were positive for clonal IGH rearrangement with fluorescence PCR-fragment analysis and the NGS assay, and six follow-up samples were positive only with NGS. In one case with BCR-ABL1 translocation, BCR-ABL1 quantitative PCR was negative but the NGS IGH assay was positive just prior to full-blown relapse, suggesting the high sensitivity and clinical utility of the NGS assay. The NGS assay is proposed for MRD monitoring in B-ALL Additional studies are needed to confirm the clinical implications of cases showing positive results only in NGS.

Keywords: B-lymphoblastic leukemia; Immunoglobulin heavy chain gene rearrangement; Minimal residual disease; Next-generation sequencing.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Neoplasm / chemistry
  • DNA, Neoplasm / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / genetics
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / metabolism
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / genetics*
  • Male
  • Neoplasm, Residual / genetics
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / genetics
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • BCR-ABL1 fusion protein, human
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl