Testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) are the most common cancer in young men. Here we perform whole exome sequencing of 42 TGCTs to comprehensively study the mutational profile of TGCT. The mutation rate is uniformly low in all of the tumours (mean 0.5 mutations per megabase [Mb]) as compared to the common cancers, consistent with the embryological origin of TGCT. In addition to expected copy number gain of chromosome 12p and mutation of KIT we identify recurrent mutations in the tumour suppressor gene CDC27 (11.9%). Copy number analysis reveals recurring amplification of the spermatocyte development gene FSIP2 (15.3%) and a 0.4Mb region at Xq28 (15.3%). Two treatment-refractory patients are shown to harbour XRCC2 mutations, a gene strongly implicated in defining cisplatin resistance. Our findings provide further insights into genes involved in the development and progression of TGCT.
Spermatocytic seminomas are solid tumors found solely in the testis of predominantly elderly individuals. We investigated these tumors using a genome-wide analysis for structural and numerical chromosomal changes through conventional karyotyping, spectral karyotyping, and array comparative genomic hybridization using a 32 K genomic tiling-path resolution BAC platform (confirmed by in situ hybridization). Our panel of five spermatocytic seminomas showed a specific pattern of chromosomal imbalances, mainly numerical in nature (range, 3-24 per tumor). Gain of chromosome 9 was the only consistent anomaly, which in one case also involved amplification of the 9p21.3-pter region. Parallel chromosome level expression profiling as well as microarray expression analyses (Affymetrix U133 plus 2.0) was also done. Unsupervised cluster analysis showed that a profile containing transcriptional data on 373 genes (difference of z3.0-fold) is suitable for distinguishing these tumors from seminomas/ dysgerminomas. The diagnostic markers SSX2-4 and POU5F1 (OCT3/OCT4), previously identified by us, were among the top discriminatory genes, thereby validating the experimental set-up. In addition, novel discriminatory markers suitable for diagnostic purposes were identified, including Deleted in Azospermia (DAZ). Although the seminomas/dysgerminomas were characterized by expression of stem cell-specific genes (e.g., POU5F1, PROM1/CD133, and ZFP42), spermatocytic seminomas expressed multiple cancer testis antigens, including TSP50 and CTCFL (BORIS), as well as genes known to be expressed specifically during prophase meiosis I (TCFL5, CLGN, and LDHc). This is consistent with different cells of origin, the primordial germ cell and primary spermatocyte, respectively. Based on the region of amplification defined on 9p and the associated expression plus confirmatory immunohistochemistry, DMRT1 (a male-specific transcriptional regulator) was identified as a likely candidate gene for involvement in the development of spermatocytic seminomas.
Gain of 12p material is invariably associated with testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) of adolescents and adults, most usually as an isochromosome 12p. We analyzed TGCTs with i(12p) using a global approach to expression profiling targeting chromosomes (comparative expressed sequence hybridization, CESH). This indicated overexpression of genes from 12p11.2-p12.1 relative to testis tissue and fibroblasts. The nonseminoma subtype showed higher levels of expression than seminomas. Notably, 12p11.2-p12.1 is amplified in about 10% of TGCTs and CESH analysis of such amplicon cases showed high levels of overexpression from this region. Microarray analysis, including cDNA clones representing most UniGene clusters from 12p11.2-p12.1, was applied to DNA and RNA from 5 TGCTs with amplification of 12p11.2-p12.1 and seven TGCTs with gain of the entire short arm of chromosome 12. Expression profiles were consistent with the CESH data and overexpression of EST595078, MRPS35 and LDHB at 12p11.2-p12.1 was detected in most TGCTs. High-level overexpression of BCAT1 was specific to nonseminomas and overexpression of genes such as CMAS, EKI1, KRAS2, SURB7 and various ESTs correlated with their amplification. Genes such as CCND2, GLU3, LRP6 and HPH1 at 12p13 were also overexpressed. The overexpressed sequences identified, particularly those in the region amplified, represent candidate genes for involvement in TGCT development.
Within the human testis, three entities of germ cell tumours are distinguished: the teratomas and yolk sac tumors of newborn and infants, the seminomas and nonseminomas of adolescents and young adults, referred to as testicular germ cell tumours (TGCT), and the spermatocytic seminomas. Characteristic chromosomal anomalies have been reported for each group, supporting their distinct pathogenesis. TGCT are the most common cancer in young adult men. The initiating pathogenetic event of these tumours occurs during embryonal development, affecting a primordial germ cell or gonocyte. Despite this intra-uterine initiation, the tumour will only be clinically manifest after puberty, with carcinoma in situ (IS) as the precursor. All invasive TGCT, both seminomas and nonseminomas, as well as CIS cells are aneuploid. The only consistent (structural) chromosomal abnormalities in invasive TGCT are gains of the short arm of chromosome 12, mostly due to isochromosome (i(12p)) formation. This suggests that an increase in copy number of a gene(s) on 12p is associated with the development of a clinically manifest TGCT. Despite the numerous (positional) candidate gene approaches that have been undertaken thus far, identification of a causative gene(s) has been hampered by the fact that most 12p gains involve rather large genomic intervals, containing unmanageable numbers of candidate genes. Several years ago, we initiated a search for 12p candidate genes using TGCT with a restricted 12p-amplification, cytogenetically identified as 12p11.2-p12.1. This approach is mainly based on identification of candidate genes mapped within the shortest region of overlap of amplification (SROA). In this review, data will be presented, which support the model that gain of 12p-sequences is associated with suppression of apoptosis and Sertoli cell-independence of CIS cells. So far, DAD-R is one of the most likely candidate genes involved in this process, possibly via N-glycosylation. Preliminary results on high through-put DNA- and cDNA array analyses of 12p-sequences will be presented.
Although several genes/genetic loci involved in the etiology of Wilms' tumor have been identified, little is known of the molecular changes associated with relapse. We therefore undertook an analysis by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) of 58 tumor samples of favorable histology Wilms' tumor taken at initial diagnosis and/or relapse. Tumors with anaplastic histology were excluded as this is known to be associated with p53 mutation and a poor prognosis. A control group of 21 Wilms' tumors that did not relapse was also analyzed. The overall frequency of gains or losses of genetic material detected by CGH was similar in both groups (77% in relapsing tumors and 70% in the nonrelapse group) as was the median number of changes per tumor (relapse group: n = 4, range, 1 to 19; nonrelapse group: n = 3, range, 1 to 8). However, gain of 1q was significantly more frequent in the relapse series [27 of 46 (59%) versus 5 of 21 (24%), P: = 0.019]. In 12 matched tumor pairs, the CGH profiles, including 1q gain, were similar at diagnosis and relapse, with little evidence for further copy number changes being involved in clonal evolution. The results suggest that 1q gain at diagnosis could be used to identify patients with favorable histology Wilms' tumor at increased risk of relapse who might benefit from early treatment intensification.
We have previously identified amplification at 4q12 in testicular germ cell tumors of adolescents and adults centered around the KIT gene encoding a tyrosine kinase transmembrane receptor. Analysis of primary testicular germ cell tumors totaling 190 cases revealed 21% of the seminoma subtype with an increased copy number of KIT whereas this change was rarely found in the nonseminomas. In most cases, gain of KIT did not include the immediately flanking noncoding DNA or the flanking genes KDR and PDGFRA. Increased copy number of KIT was not found in the putative precursor lesion, carcinoma in situ (CIS), adjacent to tumor with this change. KIT overexpression was found independent of gain and KIT immunostaining was stronger in selected cases with gain of KIT compared to those without. Taken together with activating mutations of KIT in exon 17 identified in 13% of seminomas, this suggests that the KIT gene product plays a role in the progression of CIS towards seminoma, the further understanding of which may lead to novel less toxic therapeutic approaches. (Cancer Res 2005; 65(18): 8085-89)
Carcinoma in situ (CIS) of the testis is the pre-invasive stage of type II testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) of adolescents and adults. These tumours are the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Caucasian adolescents and young adults. In dysgenetic gonads, the precursor of type II GCTs can be either CIS or a lesion known as gonadoblastoma (GB). CIS/GB originates from a primordial germ cell (PGC)/gonocyte, ie an embryonic cell. CIS can be cured by local low-dose irradiation, with limited side effects on hormonal function. Therefore, strategies for early diagnosis of CIS are essential. Various markers are informative to diagnose CIS in adult testis by immunohistochemistry, including c-KIT, PLAP, AP-2gamma, NANOG, and POU5F1 (OCT3/4). OCT3/4 is the most informative and consistent in presence and expression level, resulting in intense nuclear staining. In the case of maturational delay of germ cells, frequently present in gonads of individuals at risk for type II (T)GCTs, use of these markers can result in overdiagnosis of malignant germ cells. This demonstrates the need for a more specific diagnostic marker to distinguish malignant germ cells from germ cells showing maturation delay. Here we report the novel finding that immunohistochemical detection of stem cell factor (SCF), the c-KIT ligand, is informative in this context. This was demonstrated in over 400 cases of normal (fetal, neonatal, infantile, and adult) and pathological gonads, as well as TGCT-derived cell lines, specifically in cases of CIS and GB. Both membrane-bound and soluble SCF were expressed, suggestive of an autocrine loop. SCF immunohistochemistry can be a valuable diagnostic tool, in addition to OCT3/4, to screen for precursor lesions of TGCTs, especially in patients with germ cell maturation delay.
Testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) are the leading cause of cancer deaths in young male Caucasians. Identifying changes in DNA copy number can pinpoint genes involved in tumour development. We defined the smallest overlapping regions of imbalance in TGCTs using array comparative genomic hybridization analysis. Novel regions, or regions which refined those previously reported, were identified. The expression profile of genes from 12p, which is invariably gained in TGCTs, and amplicons defined at 12p11.2-12.1 and 4q12, suggest KRAS and KIT involvement in TGCT and seminoma development, respectively. Amplification of these genes was not found in intratubular germ cell neoplasia adjacent to invasive disease showing these changes, suggesting their involvement in tumour progression. Activating mutations of RAS genes (KRAS or NRAS) and overexpression of KRAS were mutually exclusive events. These, correlations between the expression levels of KIT, KRAS and GRB7 (which encodes an adapter molecule known to interact with the KIT tyrosine kinase receptor) and other reported evidence reviewed here, are consistent with a role for activation of KIT and RAS signalling in TGCT development. In order to assess a role for KIT in seminomas, we modulated the level of KIT expression in TCam-2, a seminoma cell line. The likely seminomatous origin of this cell line was supported by demonstrating KIT and OCT3/4 overexpression and gain of 12p material. Reducing the expression of KIT in TCam-2 through RNA inhibition resulted in decreased cell viability. Further understanding of KIT and RAS signalling in TGCTs may lead to novel therapeutic approaches for these tumours.
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