Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary To determine the role the multiple drug-resistance (MDR1) gene plays in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), we measured the expression of the MDR 1 gene in 30 patients with this disease. A rapid, highly sensitive, and nonradioactive technique based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used for that purpose. In this technique, called differential PCR, the target (MDR 1) and a reference gene (β2-microglobulin) are co-amplified by PCR from random hexamer-primed cDNA in the same reaction vessel. The level of target gene expression is reflected in the ratio between the intensities of the two resulting PCR product bands, as measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). MDR 1 gene expression was detectable in 29/30 (97%) patients with CLL, with a median expression level of 0.36 U (human placenta=1 U). There was no correlation between expression of the MDR 1 gene and clinical stage, time from diagnosis, absolute lymphocyte count, several lymphocyte surface markers, or prior treatment in the patients analyzed. Immunocytochemical studies of the same material using the monoclonal antibody C219 showed a very low or undetectable expression of the P-glycoprotein in the lymphocytes of all patients studied, whereas granulocytes were significantly more immunoreactive. We conclude that the level of expression of the MDR 1 gene in CLL is generally low, that the removal of granulocytes is important in studies of expression of MDR 1 mRNA in CLL, and that differential PCR provides a rapid and reliable method for quantifying the amount of a specific mRNA, even in very small samples of total RNA.
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