Molecular-genetic insights in paediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
Paediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive malignancy of thymocytes that accounts for about 15% of ALL cases and for which treatment outcome remains inferior compared to B-lineage acute leukaemias. In T-ALL, leukemic transformation of maturating thymocytes is caused by a multistep pathogenesis involving numerous genetic abnormalities that drive normal T-cells into uncontrolled cell growth and clonal expansion. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge on onco- and tumor suppressor genes in T-ALL and suggests a classification of these genetic defects into type A and type B abnormalities. Type A abnormalities may delineate distinct molecular-cytogenetic T-ALL subgroups, whereas type B abnormalities are found in all major T-ALL subgroups and synergize with these type A mutations during T-cell pathogenesis.