Author(s): Bennour A
The mechanisms for the formation of variant Philadelphia (Ph) translocations that occur in 5-10% of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) are not fully characterized. Studies on the prognosis of these variant translocations have yielded conflicting results, especially regarding imatinib outcome and the status of deletions on the derivative chromosome 9. To shed light on these controversial subjects, we sought to analyze all variant translocation cases presented at diagnosis and identified in our institution between the years 2001 and 2008. Of 336 CML patients who presented at diagnosis and were studied by conventional cytogenetics and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), 25 patients (7.44%) exhibited variant Ph-rearrangements. All chromosomes could be implicated in variant Ph rearrangements, with 32 breakpoints defined. Their distribution was located preferentially in the CG-richest regions of the genome. Deletions on der(9) were observed in 15 of the 25 cases (60%), a greater proportion in typical Ph translocations (12-15%). Both one- and two-step mechanisms were encountered in our series, as well as multiple-step mechanisms, which originate more complex rearrangements. Higher prevalence was observed for the two-step mechanism (56%). Proper assessment of the prognostic significance of variant translocations requires better categorization of these translocations based on their mechanisms of genesis and 9q34 deletion status.