Biallelic expression of the H19 and IGF2 genes in human testicular germ cell tumors

R J van Gurp, J W Oosterhuis, V Kalscheuer, E C Mariman, L H Looijenga

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BACKGROUND: Genomic imprinting, resulting in the nonequivalence of expression of homologue genes depending on their parental origin, is an important determinant of the developmental potential of embryonic cells. The expression of two genes, one termed H19 and the other IGF2, has been found to be necessary for proper embryonal development in humans. Both the murine and human H19 and IGF2 genes are normally characterized by monoallelic expression.

PURPOSE: Because testicular germ cell tumors of adults originate from an early germ cell and, to a certain extent, mimic normal embryonal development, we investigated the patterns of allelic expression of the H19 and IGF2 genes in these tumors to determine if genomic imprinting, or a disturbance of it, is involved in their pathogenesis.

METHODS: Specimens of normal tissue and tumor tissue were obtained from 20 patients with testicular germ cell tumors; 10 of the patients had seminomas and 10 had nonseminomatous germ cell tumors. To determine if there was heterozygosity of the Alu I and Apa I restriction site polymorphism in the H19 and IGF2 genes, respectively, DNA was isolated from cells of the peripheral blood of these patients, then subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, restriction enzyme digestion, and electrophoresis in agarose gels. If heterozygosity was determined, a similar analysis was performed on complementary DNA (cDNA) obtained from matched tumor RNA by reverse transcription and subsequent PCR amplification (RT-PCR). If monoallelic expression was found, matched tumor DNA was studied for possible deletions.

RESULTS: Tumor samples from 14 of 20 and 11 of 20 patients were informative for allelic expression patterns of the H19 and IGF2 genes, respectively. Analysis of the products of RT-PCR showed biallelic expression of the H19 gene in 12 testicular germ cell tumors (patients numbered 6, 8-13, 15, 16, and 18-20) and of the IGF2 gene in 10 testicular germ cell tumors (patients numbered 1, 3, 6, 8-13, and 15-20). The three remaining tumors (patients numbered 2, 4, and 5) had lost the nonexpressed allele.

CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to normally developing embryos, testicular germ cell tumors show a consistent expression of both parental alleles of the H19 and IGF2 genes.

IMPLICATIONS: Testicular germ cell tumors of adults may develop from precursor cells in which the imprinting has been either erased or subjected to a consistent relaxation of its effect.

Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)1070-5
Aantal pagina's6
TijdschriftJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Nummer van het tijdschrift14
StatusGepubliceerd - 20 jul. 1994
Extern gepubliceerdJa


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