Typical, atypical and cryptic t(15;17)(q24;q21) (PML::RARA) observed in acute promyelocytic leukemia: A retrospective review of 831 patients with concurrent chromosome and PML::RARA dual-color dual-fusion FISH studies

Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2022 Oct;61(10):629-634. doi: 10.1002/gcc.23070. Epub 2022 Jun 10.


The diagnosis of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) relies on the identification of PML::RARA fusion. While the majority of APL cases harbor a typical t(15;17)(q24;q21), atypical genetic mechanisms leading to the oncogenic PML::RARA fusion have been reported yet their frequency and scope remain poorly characterized. We assessed the genetic findings of 831 cases with APL investigated with concurrent chromosome banding analysis and dual-color dual-fusion fluorescence in situ hybridization (D-FISH) analysis at our institution over an 18.5-year timeframe. Seven hundred twenty-three (87%) cases had a typical balanced t(15;17) with both testing modalities. Atypical karyotypic results including complex translocations, unbalanced rearrangements and insertional events occurred in 50 (6%) cases, while 6 (0.7%) cases were cryptic by conventional chromosome studies despite PML::RARA fusion by D-FISH evaluation. Atypical FISH patterns were observed in 48 (6%) cases despite apparently balanced t(15;17) on chromosome banding analysis. Two hundred fifty (30%) cases displayed additional chromosome abnormalities of which trisomy/tetrasomy 8 (37%), del(7q)/add(7q) (12%), and del(9q) (7%) were most frequent. Complex and very complex karyotypes were observed in 81 (10%) and 34 (4%) cases, respectively. In addition, 4 (0.5%) cases presented as an apparently doubled, near-tetraploid stemline clone. This report provides the largest appraisal of cytogenetic findings in APL with conventional chromosome and PML::RARA D-FISH analysis. By characterizing the frequency and breadth of typical and atypical results through the lens of these cytogenetic testing modalities, this study serves as a pragmatic source of information for those involved in the investigation of APL in both the clinical and research laboratory settings.

Keywords: PML::RARA; acute promyelocytic leukemia; chromosome banding analysis; fluorescence in situ hybridization.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 15 / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 17 / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 8
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute* / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Translocation, Genetic
  • Trisomy


  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion

Supplementary concepts

  • Chromosome 8, trisomy