Acute promyelocytic leukemia (subtype M3) is characterized by malignant promyelocytes exhibiting an abundance of abnormally large or aberrant primary granules. Myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity of these azurophilic granules, as assessed by cytochemical staining, is unusually intense. In addition, M3 is universally associated with a chromosomal translocation, t(15;17)(q22;q11.2). In this report, the MPO gene was localized to human chromosome 17 (q12-q21), the region of the breakpoint on chromosome 17 in the t(15;17), by somatic cell hybrid analysis and in situ chromosomal hybridization. By means of MPO complementary DNA clones for in situ hybridization and Southern blot analysis, the effect of this specific translocation on the MPO gene was examined. In all cases of M3 examined, MPO is translocated to chromosome 15. Genomic blot analyses indicate rearrangement of MPO in leukemia cells of two of four cases examined. These findings suggest that MPO may be pivotal in the pathogenesis of acute promyelocytic leukemia.
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