Most of human follicular lymphomas possess the t(14;18) chromosome translocation that juxtaposes the IgH gene to the 3' region of bcl-2 in a head-to-tail configuration. Here we show that the rearrangement of the bcl-2 gene occurs in a significant fraction (approximately of 10%) of B cell CLL. In all cases analyzed, breakpoints on chromosome 18 clustered at the 5' flanking region of the bcl-2 gene, and no rearrangements were found at the major or minor breakpoint clustering region (3' region of bcl-2 gene) typical of the t(14;18) chromosome translocation. All of the rearranged bcl-2 genes were juxtaposed with the Ig lambda or K genes in a head-to-head configuration. These results imply that the bcl-2 gene is preferentially linked to the IgL genes in CLL and could function in leukemogenesis.

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