Systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is an aggressive T-cell lymphoma most commonly seen in children and young adults. The majority of pediatric ALCLs are associated with the t(2;5)(p23;q35) translocation which fuses the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) gene with the Nucleophosmin (NPM) gene. The NPM-ALK fusion protein is a constitutively-active tyrosine kinase, and plays a major role in tumor pathogenesis. In an effort to advance novel diagnostic approaches and the understanding of the function of this fusion protein in cancer cells, we expressed in E. coli, purified and characterized human NPM-ALK fusion protein to be used as a standard for estimating expression levels in cultured human ALCL cells, a key tool in ALCL pathobiology research. We estimated that NPM-ALK fusion protein is expressed at substantial levels in both Karpas 299 and SU-DHL-1 cells (ca. 4–6 million molecules or 0.5–0.7 pg protein per cell; based on our in-house developed NPM-ALK ELISA; LOD of 40 pM) as compared to the ubiquitous β-actin protein (ca. 64 million molecules or 4.5 pg per lymphocyte). We also compared NPM-ALK/ β-actin ratios determined by ELISA to those independently determined by two-dimensional electrophoresis and showed that the two methods are in good agreement.
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