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Increased sensitivity of B-cell clonality analysis in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded B-cell lymphoma samples using an enzyme blend with both 5′→3′ DNA polymerase and 3′→5′ exonuclease activity


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection of immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) gene rearrangement for determination of B-cell clonality needs to be simple but optimally sensitive. Efficient IgH PCR analysis can be hampered by sequence variability in the template DNA, despite of the use of degenerative primers. To improve sensitivity of the B-cell clonality analysis in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, we have performed framework three-area (FR3)/joining gene (JH) IgH PCR utilizing an enzyme blend (rTth DNA Polymerase, XL) providing both 5′→3′ polymerase and 3′→5′ exonuclease activities. The DNA samples were extracted from FFPE biopsies of 43 mature B-cell lymphoma cases of so-called germinal center and post-germinal center origin, including 6 nodal follicular lymphomas (FL), 15 gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphomas, and 22 gastric diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCL). Of the cases, 31 (17 DLBCL and 14 MALT lymphoma) represented small endoscopic biopsies. Serial dilutions of target DNA were applied to avoid inconsistent bands that may be seen when the input amount of template is too low, which can be the case when DNA is extracted from FFPE endoscopic gastric biopsies. Using conventional Taq polymerase, consistent monoclonal product was found in 53% (23/43) of the cases (FL: 67%; MALT lymphoma: 47%; DLBCL: 55%). The rTth polymerase showed reproducible monoclonal pattern in 72% (31/43) of the cases (FL: 67%; MALT lymphoma: 73%; DLBCL: 73%); the sensitivity is compatible with one that can be detected with conventional FR3/JH PCR in fresh/frozen tissues. In conclusion, the rTth DNA polymerase greatly improves sensitivity of FR3/JH PCR in FFPE biopsies of mature B-cell lymphomas, most probably by increasing the primer matches during PCR amplification.

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This work was supported by a research grant of the Egészségügyi és Tudományos Tanács, Hungary (no. ETT 479 07/2000), by the Zoltan Magyary post-doctoral fellowship of the Foundation for Hungarian Higher Education and Research (Ministry of Education, Hungary) and by the Janos Bolyai Research Fellowship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The authors thank Mr. Frank van der Panne for the photographic work.

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Correspondence to Winand N. M. Dinjens.

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Gurbity, T.P., Bagdi, E., Groen, N.A. et al. Increased sensitivity of B-cell clonality analysis in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded B-cell lymphoma samples using an enzyme blend with both 5′→3′ DNA polymerase and 3′→5′ exonuclease activity. Virchows Arch 443, 643–648 (2003).

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  • FR3
  • PCR
  • B-cell lymphoma
  • Clonality
  • Paraffin