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Characterization of t(3;6)(q27;p21) breakpoints in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and construction of the histone H4/BCL6 fusion gene, leading to altered expression of Bcl-6.

Kurata M., Maesako Y., Ueda C., Nishikori M., Akasaka T., Uchiyama T., Ohno H.

A recurrent translocation, t(3;6)(q27;p21), in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma results in fusion of BCL6 with a particular histone H4 gene on 6p21. We cloned five H4/BCL6 junctions from both der(3) and der(6) chromosomes. The breakpoints on H4 were distributed within the single exon or close to the terminal palindrome, and those on BCL6 were localized within or close to the translocation hypercluster. Deletions or duplications of variable numbers of nucleotides were identified at the junctions. A total of eight single nucleotide alterations were introduced into the translocation/mutation cluster of BCL6, whereas four single nucleotide substitutions were identified within a 360-bp region of H4. Thus, the somatic hypermutation mechanism is likely to target H4, resulting in a predisposition to the development of translocation with BCL6. Lymphoma cells carrying H4/BCL6 produced fusion transcripts containing both H4 and BCL6 messages; however, the cells expressed only moderate levels of BCL6 mRNA. We constructed expression plasmids that mimicked the H4/BCL6 fusion gene and transiently introduced them into COS-7 cells. H4/BCL6-transfected cells expressed markedly higher levels of Bcl-6 protein than cells transfected with a plasmid carrying BCL6 driven by its normal promoter and displayed bright nuclear staining with a characteristic punctate pattern with an anti-Bcl-6 antibody. Deletion analyses revealed that the high-level Bcl-6 expression was promoted by the H4 regulatory sequences. The levels of expression of activating transcription factor 3, prefoldin 4, and retinoblastoma-binding protein 7 significantly increased in accordance with that of BCL6, suggesting that Bcl-6 may act as a transcriptional activator. Our study suggested that t(3;6)(q27;p21) leads to BCL6 overexpression; however, the high-level BCL6 expression may not be required to maintain the malignant phenotype of lymphoma cells.

Cancer Res. 62:6224-6230(2002) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]