Pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Kristina Karrman, Bertil Johansson

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The most common pediatric malignancy is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), of which T-cell ALL (T-ALL) comprises 10–15% of cases. T-ALL arises in the thymus from an immature thymocyte as a consequence of a stepwise accumulation of genetic and epigenetic aberrations. Crucial biological processes, such as differentiation, self-renewal capacity, proliferation, and apoptosis, are targeted and deranged by several types of neoplasia-associated genetic alteration, for example, translocations, deletions, and mutations of genes that code for proteins involved in signaling transduction, epigenetic regulation, and transcription. Epigenetically, T-ALL is characterized by gene expression changes caused by hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes, histone modifications, and miRNA and lncRNA abnormalities. Although some genetic and gene expression patterns have been associated with certain clinical features, such as immunophenotypic subtype and outcome, none has of yet generally been implemented in clinical routine for treatment decisions. The recent advent of massive parallel sequencing technologies has dramatically increased our knowledge of the genetic blueprint of T-ALL, revealing numerous fusion genes as well as novel gene mutations. The challenges now are to integrate all genetic and epigenetic data into a coherent understanding of the pathogenesis of T-ALL and to translate the wealth of information gained in the last few years into clinical use in the form of improved risk stratification and targeted therapies. Here, we provide an overview of pediatric T-ALL with an emphasis on the acquired genetic alterations that result in this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-116
Number of pages28
JournalGenes Chromosomes and Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Pediatrics


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