Detection of myeloperoxidase gene expression in minimally differentiated acute myelogenous leukemia (AML-MO) using in situ hybridization

S. Thomas Traweek, Jane Liu, Rita M. Braziel, Rochelle M. Johnson, Russell K. Brynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute leukemias containing >3% myeloperoxidase (MPO)-positive blast cells, as detected cytochemically, are considered to be myelogenous in origin, regardless of the immunophenotypic markers expressed. Conversely, acute leukemias that express only myeloid antigens are also considered to be acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), even in the absence of MPO. These MPO- negative AMLs, designated AML-MO in the FAB classification, currently require either immunophenotypic or electron microscopic studies for identification. To examine the association of MPO and myeloid antigen expression in AML, particularly at the early stages of myeloid cell differentiation, we have used in situ hybridization (ISH) to evaluate MPO gene expression in myeloid leukemia cell lines and a variety of well-characterized acute leukemias, including six cases of AML-MO. Strong positivity for MPO mRNA was detected in the myeloid leukemia cell line HL-60 and in 22 of 27 AMLs (three AML- MO, four AML-M1, eight AML-M2, five AML-M4, two AML-M5a). No MPO gene expression was detected in three AML-MO, one AML-M5a, one AML-M7, 5 acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the lymphoid cell lines Molt-4 and Namalwa, or in the early myeloid cell lines K.G-1 and KG-la. Ultrastructural studies for MPO activity were performed on four AML-MO; one leukemia showed both gene expression and cytochemical activity, whereas two others contained neither MPO transcripts nor enzyme. Weak MPO gene expression was evident in one AML-MO that was negative for enzymatic activity by electron microscopy. These studies show that MPO gene expression can be detected by ISH in about half of AML-MO, supporting their presumed myelocytic derivation. However, the blasts in some AML-MO fail to express MPO, even at the molecular level, suggesting that these cells are at a very early stage of myeloid commitment or that differentiation along some other nonlymphoid cell line may be present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-219
Number of pages8
JournalDiagnostic Molecular Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute leukemia
  • In situ hybridization
  • Myeloperoxidase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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