Research Papers:

Characterization and diagnostic application of genomic NPM-ALK fusion sequences in anaplastic large-cell lymphoma

Manuela Krumbholz _, Wilhelm Woessmann, Jakob Zierk, David Seniuk, Paolo Ceppi, Martin Zimmermann, Vijay Kumar Singh, Markus Metzler and Christine Damm-Welk

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:26543-26555. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25489

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Manuela Krumbholz1, Wilhelm Woessmann2, Jakob Zierk1, David Seniuk1, Paolo Ceppi3, Martin Zimmermann4, Vijay Kumar Singh2, Markus Metzler1,* and Christine Damm-Welk2,*

1University Hospital Erlangen, Department of Pediatrics, Erlangen, Germany

2Justus-Liebig University, Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Giessen, Germany

3Junior Research Group 1, Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Erlangen, Germany

4Hannover Medical School, Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Hannover, Germany

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Manuela Krumbholz, email: [email protected]

Keywords: pediatric oncology; ALK-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma; NPM-ALK fusion; genomic fusion sequences; minimal disease monitoring

Received: February 01, 2018     Accepted: May 07, 2018     Published: May 29, 2018


Nucleophosmin-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (NPM-ALK) fusion genes resulting from the translocation t(2;5)(p23;q35) are present in almost 90% of childhood ALK-positive anaplastic large-cell lymphomas (ALCL). Detection and quantification of minimal disseminated disease (MDD) by measuring NPM-ALK fusion transcript levels in the blood provide independent prognostic parameters. Characterization of the genomic breakpoints provides insights into the pathogenesis of the translocation and allows for DNA-based minimal disease monitoring.

We designed a nested multiplex PCR assay for identification and characterization of genomic NPM-ALK fusion sequences in 45 pediatric ALCL-patients, and used the sequences for quantitative MDD monitoring. Breakpoint analysis indicates the involvement of inaccurate non-homologous end joining repair mechanisms in the formation of NPM-ALK fusions. Parallel quantification of RNA and DNA levels in the cellular fraction of 45 blood samples from eight patients with NPM-ALK-positive ALCL correlated, as did cell-free circulating NPM-ALK DNA copies in the plasma fraction of 37 blood samples. With genomic NPM-ALK fusion sequence quantification, plasma samples of ALCL patients become an additional source for MRD-assessment. Parallel quantification of NPM-ALK transcripts and fusion genes in ALCL cell lines treated with the ALK kinase inhibitor crizotinib illustrates the potential value of supplementary DNA-based quantification in particular clinical settings.

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