Surrogate light chains consisting of VpreB (CD179a) and λ5 (CD179b) are expressed in precursor B cells lacking a complete form of immunoglobulin and are thought to act as substitutes for conventional light chains. Upon differentiation to immature and mature B cells, CD179a/b disappear and are replaced with conventional light chains. Thus, these molecules may be useful as essential markers of precursor B cells. To examine the expression of the surrogate light-chain components CD179a and CD179b in precursor B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, we analyzed tissue sections using immunohistochemistry techniques. Among a number of monoclonal antibodies for the surrogate light chains, VpreBS and SL11 were found to detect CD179a and CD179b, respectively, in acetone-fixed fresh frozen sections. Moreover, we also observed VpreBS staining in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections. Using these antibodies, we found that CD179a/b were specifically expressed in precursor B-cell lymphoblastic lymphomas, but not in mature B-cell lymphomas in childhood. Furthermore, other pediatric tumors that must be included in a differential diagnosis of precursor B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, including precursor T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, extramedullary myeloid tumors, and Ewing sarcoma, were also negative for both CD179a and CD179b. Our data indicate that CD179a and CD179b may be important markers for the immunophenotypic diagnosis of precursor B-cell lymphoblastic lymphomas.
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