Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

CML patients in blast crisis have breakpoints localized to a specific region of the BCR

  1. K Schaefer-Rego,
  2. H Dudek,
  3. D Popenoe,
  4. Z Arlin,
  5. JG Mears,
  6. A Bank, and
  7. D Leibowitz


Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is associated with the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome, which results from a reciprocal translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22. This activates the abl oncogene by moving it from chromosome 9 and combining it with sequence located on chromosome 22. The new fusion gene, with chromosome 22 sequence at its 5′ end and chromosome 9-abl sequence at its 3′ end, generates a new messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein that are implicated in the pathogenesis of CML. The breakpoint near the c-abl locus on chromosome 9 can occur within a large area. In contrast, the breakpoints on chromosome 22 are concentrated within a 6 kilobase (kb) region termed the breakpoint cluster region (bcr). This study was designed to determine whether chronic-phase and blast crisis patients had identifiable differences in the structure of their Ph chromosomes. Restriction mapping of the chromosome 22 translocation breakpoints performed for 26 patients showed that the breakpoints of eight of the nine patients in blast crisis were in the 3′ portion of the bcr, whereas the breakpoints in the 17 patients in the chronic phase were clustered in the 5′ portion of the bcr. This suggests a strong correlation between a 3′ bcr breakpoint and blast crisis in CML.