Leukaemia Research Fund Centre, Chester Beatty Laboratories, London, UK.
The majority (approximately 75%) of infant acute leukaemias have a reciprocal translocation between chromosome 11q23 and one of several partner chromosomes. The gene at 11q23 (named MLL, ALL-1, HRX or HTRX-1; refs 2-6) has been cloned and shares homology with the Drosophila developmental gene trithorax. Rearrangements of this gene (called HRX here) occur in introns and cluster in a region of approximately 10 kb; individual patients have different breakpoints. Here we describe three pairs of infant twins with concordant leukaemia who each share unique (clonal) but non-constitutive HRX rearrangements in their leukaemic cells, providing evidence that the leukaemogenic event originates in utero and unequivocal support for the intra-placental 'metastasis' hypothesis for leukaemia concordance in twins.