Molecular genetics and cytogenetics of myeloproliferative disorders.
The myeloproliferative disorders are believed to represent clonal malignancies resulting from transformation of a pluripotent stem cell. X-inactivation patterns of peripheral blood cells have been proposed as a useful diagnostic tool but this method is limited by the finding of a clonal X-inactivation pattern in a significant proportion of normal elderly women. There is no pathognomonic chromosomal abnormality associated with the myeloproliferative disorders. However, consistent acquired cytogenetic changes include del(20q), del(13q), trisomy 8 and 9 and duplication of segments of 1q, all of which have been observed at diagnosis or before cytoreductive therapy and therefore represent early lesions which contribute to the pathogenesis of these disorders. Although, the acquired molecular defects underlying most myeloproliferative disorders have not yet been elucidated, translocations associated with the rare 8p11 syndrome have permitted identification of a novel fusion protein. The role of a number of candidate genes in the other myeloproliferative disorders has also been studied, but no mutations have been identified so far. It is likely that a number of genes will be involved, given the varied phenotypes of the diseases. Identification of causal genes will be of considerable interest to both clinicians, who currently lack a specific and sensitive diagnostic test, and scientists interested in fundamental issues of stem cell behaviour.
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