• Acute leukemia;
  • children;
  • fusion transcript;
  • molecular diagnosis;
  • multiplex RT-PCR


Nonrandom gene rearrangements have been demonstrated in leukemic cells at diagnosis. These genetic abnormalities are associated with specific types, clinical characteristics, and prognosis of acute leukemia. Common fusion transcripts in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are TEL-AML1, E2A-PBX, MLL-AF4, and BCR-ABL (p190) and in acute nonlymphoblastic leukemia (ANLL) are AML-ETO, PML-RARA, and CBFB-MYH11. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for detection of each individual fusion transcript is impractical and time consuming. The purpose of this study was to develop simple RT-PCR methods to identify common fusion transcripts of newly diagnosed acute leukemia in children. Total RNA was extracted from bone marrow samples of children diagnosed with acute leukemia. Multiplex RT-PCR panel A (ALL) included primers for TEL-AML1, E2A-PBX, MLL-AF4, and BCR-ABL (p190) whereas panel B (ANLL) composed of primers for AML-ETO, PML-RARA, and CBFB-MYH11. Known leukemic cell lines were used to serve as positive controls. Eighty three children diagnosed with ALL (n = 63) and ANLL (n = 20) were included in this study. Fusion transcripts could be identified using multiplex RT-PCR panel A for ALL and panel B for ANLL in 26/83 (31.3%) cases. In ALL samples, we found TEL-AML1 = 16/63 (25.4%), E2A-PBX = 3/63 (4.8%), MLL-AF4 = 1/63 (1.6%), and BCR-ABL = 1/63 (1.6%). Four cases of AML1-ETO (20%) and one PML-RARA (5%) were found in ANLL samples. In conclusion, our simple multiplex RT-PCR for detection of fusion transcripts in childhood acute leukemia was found to be a rapid, accurate, and effective method.