To investigate the possible relatedness of the subpopulations that make up so-called biclonal lymphomas, we examined five bigenotypic and biphenotypic follicular lymphomas using DNA probes specific for the t(14;18) chromosomal translocation, which is a characteristic feature of these neoplasms. On Southern blot analysis, both subpopulations from four of five lymphomas contained comigrating t(14;18) DNA rearrangements, confirming the single cell origins for these neoplasms. No comigrating t(14;18) DNA rearrangements were observed in the fifth lymphoma, but nucleotide sequence analysis of cloned, breakpoint DNA showed identical t(14;18) crossovers in the two subpopulations. The migration differences of both the Ig and chromosome 18 DNA rearrangements were shown to result from somatically acquired mutations of the Ig genes from the fifth lymphoma. These studies indicate that Ig gene rearrangements and idiotope expression are not consistently stable clonal markers since they are subject to variability as a result of somatic mutation. Although translocated chromosome 18 DNA rearrangements are more reliable, they may also vary among cells of some tumors since somatic mutation can affect, as well, DNA of translocated alleles in follicular lymphomas.

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