Background: Follicular lymphoma is characterized by the t(14;18) translocation resulting in constitutive expression of BCL-2 protein; however approximately 10-15% of follicular lymphomas do not express BCL-2 protein, and a small fraction of these cases does not exhibit translocation of the BCL-2 gene either. It is highly debated whether cases of follicular lymphoma without BCL-2 gene rearrangement and expression represent a separate lymphoma entity with distinct biological characteristics, different from the BCL-2-positive cases. Design and Methods: To further characterize follicular lymphomas without BCL-2 gene rearrangement and expression, we analyzed and compared the mutational status of IGVH genes as well as other genes (C-MYC, PAX-5 and RHOH) frequently involved in the specific type of genomic instability called aberrant somatic hypermutation in 11 cases of BCL-2-negative and 7 cases of BCL-2-positive follicular lymphomas. We also determined the levels of expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase in these cases. Results: The analyzed cases were grade 2 and grade 3A follicular lymphomas. Our findings demonstrate that follicular lymphomas without BCL-2 gene rearrangement and expression are associated with ongoing somatic hypermutation of the IGVH genes, low activity of aberrant somatic hypermutation and elevated activation-induced cytidine deaminase expression. These results were in concordance with the results found in the cases of BCL-2-positive follicular lymphoma. Conclusions: Although, BCL-2 protein overexpression is considered to be a critical pathogenic event in the development of follicular lymphoma, our findings suggest that follicular lymphomas with the same morphology, immunophenotype, mutational pattern and activation-induced cytidine deaminase expression may develop without the involvement of BCL-2 gene. The present data support the hypothesis that BCL-2-positive and BCL-2-negative follicular lymphomas (grades 1-3A) represent a homogenous group with different initial but several common additional molecular pathways.
- Aberrant somatic hypermutation
- Activation-induced cytidine deaminase
- Follicular lymphoma
- Somatic hypermutation
ASJC Scopus subject areas