Immunocytochemical diagnosis of acute promyelocytic leukemia (M3) with the monoclonal antibody PG-M3 (anti-PML)

Brunangelo Falini, Leonardo Flenghi, Marta Fagioli, Francesco Lo Coco, Iole Cordone, Daniela Diverio, Laura Pasqualucci, Andrea Biondi, Daniela Riganelli, Annette Orleth, Arcangelo Liso, Massimo F. Martelli, Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Stefano Pileri

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Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is characterized by a reciprocal 15;17 chromosomal translocation, which fuses the promyelocytic leukemia (PML) and retinoic acid receptor a (RARα) genes, leading to the expression of the PML/RARα fusion oncoprotein. Immunocytochemical labeling of the wild-type PML protein with the PG-M3 monoclonal antibody (MoAb) directed against the amine terminal portion of the human PML gene product, produces a characteristic nuclear speckled pattern that is due to localization of the protein into discrete dots (g to 20 per nucleus), named PML nuclear bodies. The architecture of PML nuclear bodies appears to be disrupted in APL cells that bear the t(15; 17), thus resulting in a change of the nuclear staining pattern from speckled (wild-type PML protein) to microgranular (PML-RARα fusion protein). To assess whether the PG-M3 MoAb could assist in the diagnosis of APL (M3), bone marrow and/or peripheral blood samples from 100 cases of acute nonlymphoid leukemias of different subtypes were blindly immunostained with the PG-M3 MoAb, using the immunoalkaline phosphatase (APAAP) or immunofluorescence technique as detection system. Notably, the abnormal (micropunctate) pattern of the PML/RARα fusion protein (usually ≤50 small granules/per nucleus) was observed in APL (M3) samples, but not in other types of acute nonlymphoid leukemias. Immunocytochemical labeling with PG-M3 was particularly useful in the diagnosis of microgranular variant of APL (M3V) (three cases misdiagnosed as M4 and M5), and also to exclude a morphologic misdiagnosis of APL (six of 78 cases). In all cases investigated, immunocytochemical results were in agreement with those of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for PML/RARα. Because the epitope identified by PG-M3 is located in the aminoterminal portion of PML (AA 37 to 51), the antibody was suitable for recognizing APL cases characterized by breakpoint occurring at different sites of PML (bcr 1, bcr 2 and bcr 3). In conclusion, immunocytochemical labeling with PG-M3 represents a rapid, sensitive, and highly-specific test for the diagnosis of APL that bears the t(15; 17). This should allow an easy and correct diagnosis of this subtype of acute leukemia to any laboratory provided with a minimal equipment for immunocytochemistry work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4046-4053
Number of pages8
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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