Detection of the BCR-ABL gene by reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction and fluorescence in situ hybridization in a patient with Philadelphia chromosome negative acute lymphoblastic leukaemia


Dr F. van Rhee, LRF Centre for Adult Leukaemia, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London W12 ONN.


The Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome is detected in leukaemia cells in approximately 20% of adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). When treated with chemotherapy alone, Ph-positive ALL has a poor prognosis, and patients may benefit from bone marrow transplantation in first remission. Here we report a patient with chromosomally normal bone marrow, in all 60 cells analysed, who was found to have the p210-type BCR-ABL chimaeric transcript by RT/PCR. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was labelled cosmid probes for BCR and ABL showed the presence of BCR-ABL juxtaposition on a normal chromosome 22 in leukaemia cell metaphases. We conclude that molecular and cytogenetic methods should be used in conjunction to detect the BCR-ABL gene rearrangement in ALL.