Several functional anomalies of B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) cells may be explained by abnormalities of the B-cell receptor (BCR), a multimeric complex formed by the sIg homodimer and the noncovalently bound heterodimer Igα/Igβ (CD79a/CD79b). Because the expression of the extracellular Ig-like domain of CD79b has been reported to be absent in the cells of most CLL cases, we have investigated the molecular mechanisms that may account for this defect. Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from 50 patients and two cell lines (MEC1, MEC2) obtained from the PBL of one of them were studied. MEC1, MEC2, and 75% of CLL cases did not express detectable levels of the extracellular Ig-like domain of CD79b, which was nevertheless present in greater than 80% CD19+ cells from normal donors. In healthy subjects the expression of CD79b was equally distributed in CD5+ and CD5- B-cell subsets. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis of CD79b RNA from all patients and from MEC1 and MEC2 cell lines consistently yielded two fragments of different size (709 bp and 397 bp). The 709-bp band corresponds to CD79b entire transcript; the 397-bp band corresponds to an alternatively spliced form lacking exon 3 that encodes the extracellular Ig-like domain. Both fragments were also visible in normal PBL. The expression of the 397-bp fragment was increased in normal activated B cells, while no difference was seen between CD5+ and CD5- B cells. To obtain a more accurate estimate of the relative proportions of the two spliced forms, a radioactive PCR was performed in 13 normal and 22 B-CLL samples and the results analyzed using a digital imager. The mean value of the CD79b to the CD79b internally deleted ratio was 0.64 ± 0.20 SD in normal donors and 0.44 ± 0.27 SD in B-CLL (P = .01). Direct sequencing of 397-bp RT-PCR products and of genomic DNA corresponding to exon 3 from MEC1, MEC2, their parental cells, and five fresh B-CLL samples did not show any causal mutation. Single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of exon 3 performed in 18 additional B-CLL cases showed a single abnormal shift corresponding to a TGT → TGC polymorphic change at amino acid 122. We propose a role for the alternative splicing of CD79b gene in causing the reduced expression of BCR on the surface of B-CLL cells. AS normal S cells also present this variant, the mechanism of CD79b posttranscriptional regulation might reflect the activation stage of the normal B cell from which B-CLL derives.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 1 1999|
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