OBJECTIVES: Patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) of the monocytic lineage often lack molecular markers for minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring. The MLL-MLLT3 fusion transcript found in patients with AML harbouring t(9;11) is amenable to RT-qPCR quantification but because of the heterogeneity of translocation break points, the MLL-MLLT3 fusion gene is a challenging target. We hypothesised that MRD monitoring using MLL-MLLT3 as a RT-qPCR marker is feasible in the majority of patients with t(9;11)-positive AML. METHODS: Using a locked nucleic acid probe, we developed a sensitive RT-qPCR assay for quantification of the most common break point region of the MLL-MLLT3 fusion gene. Five paediatric patients with t(9;11)-positive AML were monitored using the MLL-MLLT3 assay. RESULTS: A total of 43 bone marrow (BM) and 52 Peripheral blood (PB) samples were collected from diagnosis until follow-up. Two patients relapsed, and both were MRD positive in BM after first induction course. A total of three relapses occurred, and they were detected by RT-qPCR 3 wks before haematological relapse was diagnosed. CONCLUSION: This MLL-MLLT3 RT-qPCR assay could be useful in MRD monitoring of a group of patients with AML who often lack reliable MRD markers.
European Journal of Haematology, 2013, Vol 91, Issue 5, p. 394-8