The expression of the Wilms’ tumor gene (wt1) was detected in various tissues during embryonic development. Mutations in the wt1 gene probably play an important role in certain tumors, e.g. the Wilms’ tumor. Furthermore the expression of wt1 gene was found in some human leukemias. In the present study we investigated the expression of wt1 gene in several types of childhood leukemia by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Bone marrow or peripheral blood of 61 pediatric patients (48 at initial diagnosis, 13 at first or second relapse) were analyzed. wt1 gene expression was detected in 35/48 patients (73%) with newly diagnosed leukemias and in 12/13 cases (92%) who had suffered from relapse. The expression levels were higher for AML than for ALL. The frequency of wt1 expression in different subtypes of acute leukemia was compared with results found in adult patients. Our results show that the frequency of wt1 gene expression in acute childhood leukemias is similar to previous data reported for adults.

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