B cell leukaemia is one of the most frequent malignancies in the paediatric population, but also affects a significant proportion of adults in developed countries. The majority of infant and paediatric cases initiate the process of leukaemogenesis during foetal development (in utero) through the formation of a chromosomal translocation or the acquisition/deletion of genetic material (hyperdiploidy or hypodiploidy, respectively). This first genetic insult is the major determinant for the prognosis and therapeutic outcome of patients. B cell leukaemia in adults displays similar molecular features as its paediatric counterpart. However, since this disease is highly represented in the infant and paediatric population, this review will focus on this demographic group and summarise the biological, clinical and epidemiological knowledge on B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia of four well characterised subtypes: t(4;11) MLL-AF4, t(12;21) ETV6-RUNX1, t(1;19) E2A-PBX1 and t(9;22) BCR-ABL1.
Keywords: B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia; BCR-ABL1; E2A-PBX1; ETV6-RUNX1; MLL-AF4; Paediatric leukaemia.