OBJECTIVE: This study aims to investigate the expression of delta-like 1 (DLK1) gene in the bone marrow cells of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and to explore its molecular characteristics for the early diagnosis of MDS.
METHODS: The expression of DLK1 mRNA in the bone marrow cells of cases with MDS, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and normal control groups were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction and were analyzed for clinical significance.
RESULTS: Significantly higher expression of DLK1 mRNA was observed in the bone marrow cells of MDS patients (0.7342±0.3652) compared with the normal control group (0.4801±0.1759) (P<0.05). The expression of DLK1 mRNA had a positive correlation with the proportion of bone marrow blasts (r=0.467, P<0.05). Moreover, DLK1 mRNA expression was significantly increased as MDS progressed (P<0.05). Patients with abnormal karyotypes exhibited significantly higher expression of DLK1 mRNA (0.9007±0.4334) than those with normal karyotypes (0.6411±0.2630) (P<0.05). Subsequently, patients with highly expressed DLK1 (≥0.8) presented significantly higher malignant clone burden (0.4134±0.3999) than those with lower DLK1 expression (<0.8),(0.1517±0.3109), (P<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The DLK1 gene was highly expressed in MDS patients, and was increased as MDS progressed. The expression of DLK1 mRNA was positively correlated with the proportion of the bone marrow blasts. A high expression of DLK1 gene suggested a higher malignant clone burden of MDS.