The PML/RARα fusion gene in the diagnosis and monitoring of acute promyelocytic leukemia

D. Diverio, R. Riccioni, F. Mandelli, F. Lo Coco

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The acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)-specific t(15;17) chromosome abnormality is characterized at the molecular level by rearrangement of the PML and RARα genes, resulting in fusion PML/RARα mRNA and a chimeric protein. Besides its relevance in the pathogenesis of the disease, this hybrid gene represents a specific tumor marker that is rapidly detectable by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in the RNA extracted from leukemic blasts. Several studies have highlighted the clinical relevance of PML/RARα detection, which provides a specific diagnosis, prognostic information, and prediction of relapse when monitoring residual disease during the follow-up. In fact, this hybrid gene is detected in 100% of APLs. Rare cases of patients with a morphological diagnosis of FAB M3 AMF who lack the specific PML/RARα abnormality have been reported as being unresponsive to differentiation treatment. Finally, all the studies reported so far on PCR monitoring in APL have documenaed that the identification of small amounts of residual disease at remission strongly predicts impending relapse. Thus, RT-PCR of the hybrid PML/RARα gene is currently performed prospectively as part of cooperative clinical atials aimed at better addressing post-remission treatment in APL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • acute promyelocytic leukemia
  • PML/RARα
  • RT-PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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