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Alternative Forms Of The BCR-ABL Oncogene Have Quantitatively Different Potencies For Stimulation Of Immature Lymphoid Cells.

J McLaughlin, E Chianese, O N Witte

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The Philadelphia chromosome (t9:22;q34:q11) is found in more than 90% of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia, in 10 to 20% of patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia, and in 1 to 2% of patients with acute myelogenous leukemia. Alternative chimeric oncogenes are formed by splicing different sets of BCR gene exons on chromosome 22 across the translocation breakpoint to a common set of ABL oncogene sequences on chromosome 9. This results in an 8.7-kilobase mRNA that encodes the P210 BCR-ABL gene product commonly found in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia or a 7.0-kilobase mRNA that produces the P185 BCR-ABL gene product found in most Philadelphia chromosome-positive patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia. To compare the efficiency of growth stimulation by these two proteins, we derived cDNA clones for each with identical 5' and 3' untranslated regions and expressed them from retrovirus vectors. Matched stocks were compared for potency to transform immature B-lymphoid lineage precursors. The growth-stimulating effects of P185 for this cell type were found to be significantly greater than those of P210. Structural changes in BCR may regulate the effectiveness of the ABL tyrosine kinase function, as monitored by lymphocyte growth response. Changes in mitogenic potency may help to explain the more acute leukemic presentation usually associated with expression of the P185 BCR-ABL oncogene.