Expression of the promyelocytic leukemia zinc-finger in T-lymphoblastic lymphoma and leukemia has strong implications for their cellular origin and greater association with initial bone marrow involvement.

Research paper by Yoon K YK Jeon, Heounjeong H Go, Soo J SJ Nam, Bhumsuk B Keam, Tae M TM Kim, Kyeong C KC Jung, Hyoung J HJ Kang, Dong S DS Lee, Joo R JR Huh, Seong H SH Park

Indexed on: 05 May '12Published on: 05 May '12Published in: Modern Pathology


The promyelocytic leukemia zinc-finger (PLZF) is essential for the development of innate T cells (as represented by natural killer T cells) for acquisition of their unique innate immune properties. We evaluated the PLZF protein expression in a variety of immature and mature lymphoid malignancies. PLZF was preferentially expressed in T-lymphoblastic lymphoma/acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-LBL/ALL) in 50% of the 54 cases. Among 51 cases of peripheral T-cell lymphoma not otherwise specified, only one (2%) expressed PLZF. One mycosis fungoides case expressed PLZF in lymph node involved by tumor. Otherwise, PLZF was not detected in any other type of lymphoma. In T-LBL/ALL, PLZF expression was more common in CD4/CD8 double-negative (67%) or CD8 single-positive subtypes (73%) than in CD4/CD8 double-positive (13%) and CD4 single-positive subtypes (0%) (P=0.001). Importantly, PLZF and CD1a expression were mutually exclusive in T-LBL/ALL (P=0.001). This was also the case for T-cell receptor βF1 expression (P=0.000). Most (96%) of the PLZF-positive T-LBL/ALL cases showed initial bone marrow involvement compared with 39% of PLZF-negative cases (P=0.000). Based on these findings, we suggest that T-LBL/ALLs that express PLZF arise from early immature double-negative thymocytes when the T-cell receptor β chain has not yet expressed or innate T-cell precursors, and strongly imply bone marrow involvement.