Leukemic cells from 70% of patients with Ia+CALLA+ non-T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) express an antigen (B1) found on all normal B lymphocytes. In this study, ALL cells that do not express the B1 antigen were studied in an attempt to further elucidate the cellular lineage of these tumors. Non-T cell ALL lines and tumor cells isolated from patients with non-T cell ALL that are Ia + CALLA + B1- were studied in vitro with a variety of agents known to promote cellular differentiation. Phorbol diester (TPA) or phytohemagglutinin conditioned leukocyte culture media were capable of inducing the expression of B1 on all four non-T cell ALL lines tested. In contrast, B1 could not be induced under the identical conditions on a promyelocytic leukemia line or a T cell lymphoblastic leukemia line. With the induction of B1 on non-T cell ALL lines, cytoplasmic mu-heavy chain (c mu) became undetectable, whereas the expression of CALLA and Ia were unchanged. The expression of B1 was accompanied by a decrease of cellular proliferation and DNA synthesis, but not significant morphologic changes were noted. In addition, no other B or T cell antigens were detected. The cellular origin of non-T cell ALL was further investigated using tumor cells isolated from leukemic patients. Tumor cells from eight patients with Ia + CALLA + B1-c mu- ALL could be induced in vitro with TPA to express both B1 and c mu. In contrast, cells from five patients with Ia + CALLA-B1-c mu- non-T cell ALL could not be induced with TPA to express CALLA, B1 or c mu. These studies suggest that the non-T cell ALL are heterogeneous and represent a spectrum of early B cell differentiation including the pre- pre-B cell (Ia + CALLA + B1-c mu-), the intermediate pre-B cell (Ia + CALLA +B1 + c mu-), and finally the "true" pre-B cell (Ia + CALLA + B1 + c mu+). The cellular origin of the remaining Ia + CALLA-B1-c mu- form of non-T cell ALL (20%) is still unknown.
L M Nadler, J Ritz, M P Bates, E K Park, K C Anderson, S E Sallan, S F Schlossman