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Partial deletion of the long arm of chromosome 5, del(5q), is the cytogenetic hallmark of the 5q-syndrome, a distinct subtype of myelodysplastic syndrome-refractory anemia (MDS-RA). Deletions of 5q also occur in the full spectrum of other de novo and therapy-related MDS and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) types, most often in association with other chromosome abnormalities. However, the loss of genetic material from 5q is believed to be of primary importance in the pathogenesis of all del(5q) disorders. In the present study, we performed fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) studies using a chromosome 5-specific whole chromosome painting probe and a 5q subtelomeric probe to determine the incidence of cryptic translocations. We studied archival fixed chromosome suspensions from 36 patients with myeloid disorders (predominantly MDS and AML) and del(5q) as the sole abnormality. In 3 AML patients studied, this identified a translocation of 5q subtelomeric sequences from the del(5q) to the short arm of an apparently normal chromosome 11. FISH with chromosome 11-specific subtelomeric probes confirmed the presence of 11p on the shortened 5q. Further FISH mapping confirmed that the 5q and 11p translocation breakpoints were the same in all 3 cases, between the nucleophosmin (NPM1) and fms-related tyrosine kinase 4 (FLT4) genes on 5q35 and the Harvey ras-1-related gene complex (HRC) and the radixin pseudogene (RDPX1) on 11p15.5. Importantly, all 3 patients with the cryptic t(5;11) were children: a total of 3 of 4 AML children studied. Two were classified as AML-M2 and the third was classified as M4. All 3 responded poorly to treatment and had short survival times, ranging from 10 to 18 months. Although del(5q) is rare in childhood AML, this study indicates that, within this subgroup, the incidence of cryptic t(5;11) may be high. It is significant that none of the 24 MDS patients studied, including 11 confirmed as having 5q-syndrome, had the translocation. Therefore, this appears to be a new nonrandom chromosomal translocation, specifically associated with childhood AML with a differentiated blast cell phenotype and the presence of a del(5q).


Journal article



Publication Date





773 - 780


Leukaemia Research Fund Molecular Haematology Unit, University Department of Cellular Science, and the Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Chromosomes, Human, Pair 5, Chromosomes, Human, Pair 11, Humans, Leukemia, Myelomonocytic, Acute, Anemia, Refractory, with Excess of Blasts, Myelodysplastic Syndromes, Chromosome Deletion, Translocation, Genetic, Prognosis, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Survival Analysis, Retrospective Studies, Karyotyping, Cell Differentiation, Adult, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Male, Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute