Author(s): Shen L, Liang AC, Lu L, Au WY, Kwong YL,
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Abstract Nasal natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphoma (NL) frequently co-expresses Fas (Apo-1/CD95) and Fas ligand (FasL), but the tumor cells seldom undergo apoptosis. To determine the reason for failure of apoptosis, we examined Fas mRNA expression in 23 NL cases by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and sequenced the entire coding region of the Fas gene in 15 of these cases for which the full-length Fas cDNA could be amplified. The reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that all of the 23 cases expressed Fas mRNA and the sequencing results showed that in addition to the commonly expressed wild-type Fas mRNA and four alternative splice variants detected in 7 cases, mutant Fas transcripts were present in 9 of the 15 (60\%) cases sequenced. With confirmation of some Fas mutations at the gene level, 12 deletions in nine cases and one insertion in one case were eventually identified. To rule out any potential polymerase chain reaction artifacts, the same protocol was used to examine 10 reactive tonsils as a control. No aberrant transcripts associated with deletions were detected in these tonsils except for three alternative splice variants. All of the deletion variants detected in NL contained N-terminal preligand assembly domain but not C-terminal death domain and/or transmembrane domain. Co-detection of the wild-type allele and the mutated Fas alleles without the death domain suggested that a dominant-negative mechanism could block the apoptosis signaling. Moreover, loss of the transmembrane domain could protect the tumor cells from apo-ptosis by producing a soluble form of the Fas receptor. The actuarial 3-year survivals leveled off at 15\% for patients carrying the Fas mutations and/or splice variants in the lesions and 49\% for those carrying the wild type only, but the difference did not reach statistical significance on the univariate analysis (P = 0.396). Taken together, the findings in this study suggest that frequent Fas gene mutations in NL can result in resistance to apoptosis and may contribute to the pathogenesis of NL by adding to the tumor immune privilege.
This article was published in Am J Pathol
and referenced in Journal of Blood Disorders & Transfusion