Chromosome abnormalities in CML.Baillieres Clin Haematol 1987; 1(4):963-81BC
The Ph chromosome is the hallmark of CML, where it is found in more than 90% of the cases. Cytogenetically, it usually results from a t(9;22)(q34;q11). The Ph arises in a stem cell and in chronic phase is found in all haematopoietic cell lineages, although it causes only increased granulopoiesis, and sometimes increased thrombopoiesis; furthermore blast crisis may occur in all differentiative patterns of the pluripotent stem cell. Recently, molecular investigations of Ph positive CML cases have revealed a consistent genomic recombination between two genes, BCR on chromosome 22 and the ABL oncogene. The latter is translocated from 9q34, its normal site, to the 22q- or Ph chromosome. This molecular rearrangement expresses a unique 8.5 kb BCR-ABL hybrid mRNA transcript, that encodes an altered BCR-ABL protein of approximately 210 kD with enhanced in vitro tyrosine kinase activity. The breakpoints on chromosome 22q- are clustered in a 5 kb DNA fragment, allowing their study using Southern blot analysis. Cytogenetic variant forms of the Ph translocation involving three or more chromosomes are found in about 5% of the cases. Southern blot and in situ hybridization studies have demonstrated that these variants are cytogenetically more complex than the standard t(9;22) but molecularly they show the same essential genomic recombination. This is also true for a small number of cases of Ph negative CML. Clonal progression, indicated by the presence of clonal, non-random chromosome abnormalities, in addition to the Ph is rare during chronic phase but is found in 80% of blast crisis. These additional aberrations may precede BC by weeks or months and have therefore a clear prognostic value. Ph is not restricted to CML, since it is also found in ALL (20% of adult cases) and rarely in AML. Ph in acute leukaemia is cytogenetically indistinguishable from Ph in CML, but molecular studies have shown that in 50% of the cases the breakpoint on chromosome 22 is different from the very consistent and characteristic breakpoint in CML. Nevertheless genomic recombination takes place that results in a novel ABL protein at least in some of the cases. Despite extensive cytogenetic and molecular investigations, the mechanisms underlying the formation of the Ph as well as the pathogenesis of Ph positive CML are still unknown but are now the object of intensive research.