Myelodysplastic syndromes: from morphology to molecular biology. Part II. The molecular genetics of myelodysplasia.
Most studies of the clonal origin of the underlying lesion(s) and all investigations using X-inactivation, have concluded that the myelodysplastic syndromes arise from a multipotent stem cell. Non-random chromosomal abnormalities, particularly deletions of 5q and 7q, are common, most notably in therapy related MDS. Progression to AML is also frequently accompanied by increased genomic instability as evidenced by the emergence of multiple karyotypic abnormalities. While some evidence hints at the presence of tumour suppressor genes on chromosomes 5, 7, 20 and 12, no such genes have yet been identified. The search for point mutations in known oncogenes has concentrated on two oncogenes RAS and c-FMS. Point mutation frequency generating active forms of RAS oncogenes is approximately 40% in MDS overall, up to 80% in studies of CMML. 60% of all MDS RAS mutation involves a G to A transition, producing a substitution of aspartate for glycine at a frequency of 50% (of total ras mutants). RAS mutation is associated with progression to AML, although the presence of a RAS point mutation alone is neither necessary nor sufficient for leukaemic transformation. Mutation of c-FMS is also more common in CMML in comparison to other MDS subtypes and, as yet, point mutation potentiating the response of the receptor to CSF-1 (codon 969) has been found more frequently than point mutation resulting in permanently activated receptor (codon 301). However, recent work has identified additional mutations which produce transforming proteins, and mutation rates at these sites may be relevant in MDS.
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