Richter's syndrome with different immunoglobulin light chain types: Molecular and cytogenetic features indicate a common clonal origin

H. Nakamine, A. S. Masih, W. G. Sanger, R. S. Wickert, D. W. Mitchell, J. O. Armitage, D. D. Weisenburger

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To investigate the issue of clonality in Richter's syndrome, phenotypic, molecular genetic, and cytogenetic studies were performed on tumor tissue from a patient with concurrent chronic lymphocytic leukemia and diffuse large cell lymphoma in a single lymph node specimen. The tumor was biphenotypic for immunoglobulin (Ig) expression with surface Igλ-positive chronic lymphocytic leukemia and surface and cytoplasmic Igκ-positive diffuse large cell lymphoma. DNA samples prepared from areas of the lymph node rich in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells and diffuse large cell lymphoma cells were examined in parallel. Identical Ig heavy chain gene rearrangements were detected in the BamHI and EcoRI digests of the two samples, but the patterns of rearrangement were different in the HindIII and PstI digests. Because it is very unlikely that multiple rearranged Ig heavy chain gene fragments of identical size would be found in more than one enzyme digest from two independently derived B-cell clones, it is probable that the two processes originated from a single clone. Modifications after rearrangement probably accounted for the differing band sizes seen in the HindIII and PstI digests. These conclusions are supported by cytogenetic analysis, which revealed two clones with a common primary abnormality (trisomy 12), one of which also exhibited secondary abnormalities. Therefore, Richter's syndrome may represent a composite tumor of common clonal origin, even when differences in light chain expression are identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-663
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992



  • Biphenotypic lymphoma
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Clonal evolution
  • Clonal origin
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Richter's syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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