Molecular Genetics and Oncogenes in Malignant Lymphomas
The application of molecular technologies to the study of lymphoid cells has led to the characterization of several molecular events which are associated with the normal differentiation pathway (i.e., immunoglobulin (Ig) and T-cell receptor (TCR) chain gene rearrangements), and to the identification of genes that may be activated during the process of malignant lymphoid transformation (i.e., oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes). Ig and TCR studies may help in the definition of clonality and lineage affiliation, as well as in the detection of minimal residual disease. Oncogene deregulation promotes cell growth and/or rescues the tumour population from programmed cell death. Tumour suppressor gene inactivation contributes to the abnormal growth typical of neoplastic cells. These molecular lesions are characteristically associated with a defined type of lymphoid leukaemia or lymphoma and represent useful tumour markers for early diagnosis, for monitoring the course of the disease or for the detection of the transformation of lymphoid neoplasms. In this review, we will summarize the most important results obtained with the utilization of DNA analysis in the study of malignant lymphoid leukaemias and lymphomas. In addition to the important clinico-diagnostic implications, we will underline the contribution of these studies to our understanding of the biological mechanisms of lymphomagenesis.
KeywordsChronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Minimal Residual Disease Gene Rearrangement Burkitt Lymphoma Lymphoid Neoplasm
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