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Molecular genetics of testicular germ cell tumors

By Yuri Sheikine, Elizabeth Genega, Jonathan Melamed, Peng Lee, Victor E. Reuter and Huihui Ye


Testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT) are the most common malignancy in young men. While most TGCT are potentially curable, approximately 5% of patients with TGCT may develop chemoresistance and die from the disease. This review article summarizes current knowledge in genetics underlying the development, progression and chemoresistance of TGCT. Most post-pubertal TGCT originate from intratubular germ cell neoplasia unclassified (IGCNU), which are transformed fetal gonocytes. Development of IGCNU may involve aberrantly activated KITLG/KIT pathway and overexpression of embryonic transcription factors such as NANOG and POU5F1, which leads to suppression of apoptosis, increased proliferation, and accumulation of mutations in gonocytes. Invasive TGCT consistently show gain of chromosome 12p, typically isochromosome 12p. Single gene mutations are uncommon in TGCT. KIT, TP53, KRAS/NRAS, and BRAF are genes most commonly mutated in TGCT and implicated in their pathogenesis. Different histologic subtypes of TGCT possess different gene expression profiles that reflect different directions of differentiation. Their distinct gene expression profiles are likely caused by epigenetic regulation, in particular DNA methylation, but not by gene copy number alterations. Resistance of TGCT to chemotherapy has been linked to karyotypic aberrations, single-gene mutations, and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in small-scale studies. The study of TGCT genetics could ultimately translate into development of new molecular diagnostic and therapeutic modalities for these tumors and improve the care of patients with these malignancies

Topics: Review Article
Publisher: e-Century Publishing Corporation
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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