Gene Summary

Gene:TFAP2A; transcription factor AP-2 alpha
Aliases: AP-2, BOFS, AP2TF, TFAP2, AP-2alpha
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is a transcription factor that binds the consensus sequence 5'-GCCNNNGGC-3'. The encoded protein functions as either a homodimer or as a heterodimer with similar family members. This protein activates the transcription of some genes while inhibiting the transcription of others. Defects in this gene are a cause of branchiooculofacial syndrome (BOFS). Three transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene.[provided by RefSeq, Dec 2009]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:transcription factor AP-2-alpha
Source:NCBIAccessed: 16 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (71)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 16 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • MicroRNAs
  • Base Sequence
  • Transfection
  • Promoter Regions
  • DNA Methylation
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Carcinoma in Situ
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Validation Studies as Topic
  • Transcription Factors
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Leukaemia
  • Germ Cell Tumours
  • Melanoma
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • TFAP2A
  • Transcription Initiation Site
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Receptor, erbB-2
  • Xenograft Models
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Retinoic Acid
  • Cell Survival
  • Peptide Termination Factors
  • Translocation
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Transcription
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Apoptosis
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Chromosome 6
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Gene Expression
  • Tunisia
  • Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Breast Cancer
  • Sequence Tagged Sites
Tag cloud generated 16 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: TFAP2A (cancer-related)

De Andrade JP, Park JM, Gu VW, et al.
EGFR Is Regulated by TFAP2C in Luminal Breast Cancer and Is a Target for Vandetanib.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2016; 15(3):503-11 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Expression of TFAP2C in luminal breast cancer is associated with reduced survival and hormone resistance, partially explained through regulation of RET. TFAP2C also regulates EGFR in HER2 breast cancer. We sought to elucidate the regulation and functional role of EGFR in luminal breast cancer. We used gene knockdown (KD) and treatment with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) in cell lines and primary cancer isolates to determine the role of RET and EGFR in regulation of p-ERK and tumorigenesis. KD of TFAP2C decreased expression of EGFR in a panel of luminal breast cancers, and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) confirmed that TFAP2C targets the EGFR gene. Stable KD of TFAP2C significantly decreased cell proliferation and tumor growth, mediated in part through EGFR. While KD of RET or EGFR reduced proliferation (31% and 34%, P < 0.01), combined KD reduced proliferation greater than either alone (52% reduction, P < 0.01). The effect of the TKI vandetanib on proliferation and tumor growth response of MCF-7 cells was dependent upon expression of TFAP2C, and dual KD of RET and EGFR eliminated the effects of vandetanib. The response of primary luminal breast cancers to TKIs assessed by ERK activation established a correlation with expression of RET and EGFR. We conclude that TFAP2C regulates EGFR in luminal breast cancer. Response to vandetanib was mediated through the TFAP2C target genes EGFR and RET. Vandetanib may provide a therapeutic effect in luminal breast cancer, and RET and EGFR can serve as molecular markers for response.

Rajpert-De Meyts E, Nielsen JE, Skakkebaek NE, Almstrup K
Diagnostic markers for germ cell neoplasms: from placental-like alkaline phosphatase to micro-RNAs.
Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2015; 53(3):177-88 [PubMed] Related Publications
This concise review summarises tissue and serum markers useful for differential diagnosis of germ cell tumours (GCT), with focus on the most common testicular GCT (TGCT). GCT are characterised by phenotypic heterogeneity due to largely retained embryonic pluripotency and aberrant somatic differentiation. TGCT that occur in young men are divided into two main types, seminoma and nonseminoma, both derived from a pre-invasive germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS), which originates from transformed foetal gonocytes. In severely dysgenetic gonads, a GCNIS-resembling lesion is called gonadoblastoma. GCT occur rarely in young children (infantile GCT) in whom the pathogenesis is different (no GCNIS/gonadoblastoma stage) but the histopathological features are similar to the adult GCT. The rare spermatocytic tumour of older men is derived from post-pubertal spermatogonia that clonally expand due to gain-of function mutations in survival-promoting genes (e.g. FGFR3, HRAS), thus this tumour has a different expression profile than GCNIS-derived TGCT. Clinically most informative immunohistochemical markers for GCT, except teratoma, are genes expressed in primordial germ cells/gonocytes and embryonic pluripotency-related factors, such as placental-like alkaline phosphatase (PLAP), OCT4 (POU5F1), NANOG, AP-2γ (TFAP2C) and LIN28, which are not expressed in normal adult germ cells. Some of these markers can also be used for immunocytochemistry to detect GCNIS or incipient tumours in semen samples. Gene expression in GCT is regulated in part by DNA and histone modifications, and the epigenetic profile of these tumours is characterised by genome-wide demethylation, except nonseminomas. In addition, a recently discovered mechanism of post-genomic gene expression regulation involves small non-coding RNAs, predominantly micro-RNA (miR). Testicular GCT display micro-RNA profiles similar to embryonic stem cells. Targeted miRNA-based blood tests for miR-371-3 and miR-367 clusters are currently under development and hold a great promise for the future. In some patients miR-based tests may be even more sensitive than the classical serum tumour markers, β -chorio-gonadotrophin (β-hCG), α-fetoprotein (AFP) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which are currently used in the clinic. In summary, research advances have provided clinicians with a panel of molecular markers, which allow specific diagnosis of various subtypes of GCT and are very useful for early detection at the precursor stage and for monitoring of patients during the follow-up.

Park JM, Wu T, Cyr AR, et al.
The role of Tcfap2c in tumorigenesis and cancer growth in an activated Neu model of mammary carcinogenesis.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(50):6105-14 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
TFAP2C/AP-2γ influences development of the mammary gland and regulates patterns of gene expression in luminal and HER2-amplified breast cancer. The roles of TFAP2C in mammary gland tumorigenesis and in pathways critical to cancer progression remain poorly understood. To gain greater insight into oncogenic mechanisms regulated by TFAP2C, we examined mammary tumorigenesis in MMTV-Neu transgenic female mice with or without conditional knockout (KO) of Tcfap2c, the mouse homolog of TFAP2C. Loss of Tcfap2c increased the latency of tumorigenesis and tumors that formed demonstrated reduced proliferative index and increased apoptosis. In addition, tumors formed in Tcfap2c KO animals had a significant reduction in Egfr levels without a change in the expression of the Neu oncogene. The MMneu-flAP2C cell line was established from tumor tissue derived from MMTV-Neu/Tcfap2c(L/L) control animals and parallel cell lines with and without expression of Tcfap2c were created by transduction with adenovirus-empty and adenovirus-Cre, respectively. KO of Tcfap2c in vitro reduced activated phosphorylated-Erk, decreased cell viability, repressed tumor growth and was associated with attenuation of Egfr expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and direct sequencing and expression analysis confirmed that Egfr was a Tcfap2c target gene in murine, as well as human, mammary carcinoma cells. Furthermore, decreased viability of mammary cancer cells was directly related to Egfr functional blockade. We conclude that TFAP2C regulates tumorigenesis, cell growth and survival in HER2-amplified breast cancer through transcriptional regulation of EGFR. The findings have important implications for targeting the EGFR pathway in breast cancer.

Gao SL, Wang LZ, Liu HY, et al.
miR-200a inhibits tumor proliferation by targeting AP-2γ in neuroblastoma cells.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(11):4671-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: MicroRNA-200a (miR-200a) has been reported to regulate tumour progression in several tumours but little is known about its role in neuroblastoma. Our aim was to investigate the potential role and mechanism of miR-200a in neuroblastomas.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Expression levels of miR-200a in tissues were determined using RT-PCR. The effect of miR-200a and shAP-2γ on cell viability was evaluated using MTS assays, and target protein expression was determined using Western blotting and RT-PCR. Luciferase reporter plasmids were constructed to confirm direct targeting. RESULTS were reported as mean±S.E.M and differences were tested for significance using the 2-tailed Students t-test.
RESULTS: We determined that miR-200a expression was significantly lower in neuroblastoma tumors than the adjacent non-cancer tissue. Over-expression of miR-200 are reduced cell viability in neuroblastoma cells and inhibited tumor growth in mouse xenografts. We identified AP-2γ as a novel target for miR-200a in neuroblastoma cells. Thus miR-200a targets the 3'UTR of AP-2γ and inhibits its mRNA and protein expression. Furthermore, our result showed that shRNA knockdown of AP-2γ in neuroblastoma cells results in significant inhibit of cell proliferation and tumor growth in vitro, supporting an oncogenic role of AP-2γ in neuroblastoma.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study revealed that miR-200a is a candidate tumor suppressor in neuroblastoma, through direct targeting of AP-2γ. These findings re-enforce the proposal of AP-2γ as a therapeutic target in neuroblastoma.

Bogachek MV, Chen Y, Kulak MV, et al.
Sumoylation pathway is required to maintain the basal breast cancer subtype.
Cancer Cell. 2014; 25(6):748-61 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The TFAP2C/AP-2γ transcription factor regulates luminal breast cancer genes, and loss of TFAP2C induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition. By contrast, the highly homologous family member, TFAP2A, lacks transcriptional activity at luminal gene promoters. A detailed structure-function analysis identified that sumoylation of TFAP2A blocks its ability to induce the expression of luminal genes. Disruption of the sumoylation pathway by knockdown of sumoylation enzymes, mutation of the SUMO-target lysine of TFAP2A, or treatment with sumoylation inhibitors induced a basal-to-luminal transition, which was dependent on TFAP2A. Sumoylation inhibitors cleared the CD44(+/hi)/CD24(-/low) cell population characterizing basal cancers and inhibited tumor outgrowth of basal cancer xenografts. These findings establish a critical role for sumoylation in regulating the transcriptional mechanisms that maintain the basal cancer phenotype.

Jørgensen A, Young J, Nielsen JE, et al.
Hanging drop cultures of human testis and testis cancer samples: a model used to investigate activin treatment effects in a preserved niche.
Br J Cancer. 2014; 110(10):2604-14 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Testicular germ cell tumours of young adults, seminoma or non-seminomas, are preceded by a pre-invasive precursor, carcinoma in situ (CIS), understood to arise through differentiation arrest of embryonic germ cells. Knowledge about the malignant transformation of germ cells is currently limited by the lack of experimental models. The aim of this study was to establish an experimental tissue culture model to maintain normal and malignant germ cells within their niche and allow investigation of treatment effects.
METHODS: Human testis and testis cancer specimens from orchidectomies were cultured in 'hanging drops' and effects of activin A and follistatin treatment were investigated in seminoma cultures.
RESULTS: Testis fragments with normal spermatogenesis or CIS cells were cultured for 14 days with sustained proliferation of germ cells and CIS cells and without increased apoptosis. Seminoma cultures survived 7 days, with proliferating cells detectable during the first 5 days. Activin A treatment significantly reduced KIT transcript and protein levels in seminoma cultures, thereby demonstrating a specific treatment response.
CONCLUSIONS: Hanging drop cultures of human testis and testis cancer samples can be employed to delineate mechanisms governing growth of normal, CIS and tumorigenic germ cells retained within their niche.

Cyr AR, Kulak MV, Park JM, et al.
TFAP2C governs the luminal epithelial phenotype in mammary development and carcinogenesis.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(4):436-44 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Molecular subtypes of breast cancer are characterized by distinct patterns of gene expression that are predictive of outcome and response to therapy. The luminal breast cancer subtypes are defined by the expression of estrogen receptor-alpha (ERα)-associated genes, many of which are directly responsive to the transcription factor activator protein 2C (TFAP2C). TFAP2C participates in a gene regulatory network controlling cell growth and differentiation during ectodermal development and regulating ESR1/ERα and other luminal cell-associated genes in breast cancer. TFAP2C has been established as a prognostic factor in human breast cancer, however, its role in the establishment and maintenance of the luminal cell phenotype during carcinogenesis and mammary gland development have remained elusive. Herein, we demonstrate a critical role for TFAP2C in maintaining the luminal phenotype in human breast cancer and in influencing the luminal cell phenotype during normal mammary development. Knockdown of TFAP2C in luminal breast carcinoma cells induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition with morphological and phenotypic changes characterized by a loss of luminal-associated gene expression and a concomitant gain of basal-associated gene expression. Conditional knockout of the mouse homolog of TFAP2C, Tcfap2c, in mouse mammary epithelium driven by MMTV-Cre promoted aberrant growth of the mammary tree leading to a reduction in the CD24(hi)/CD49f(mid) luminal cell population and concomitant gain of the CD24(mid)/CD49f(hi) basal cell population at maturity. Our results establish TFAP2C as a key transcriptional regulator for maintaining the luminal phenotype in human breast carcinoma. Furthermore, Tcfap2c influences development of the luminal cell type during mammary development. The data suggest that TFAP2C has an important role in regulated luminal-specific genes and may be a viable therapeutic target in breast cancer.

Kang HJ, Lee MH, Kang HL, et al.
Differential regulation of estrogen receptor α expression in breast cancer cells by metastasis-associated protein 1.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(5):1484-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metastasis-associated protein 1 (MTA1) is a component of the nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylase (HDAC) complex, which plays an important role in progression of breast cancer. Although MTA1 is known as a repressor of the transactivation function of estrogen receptor α (ERα), its involvement in the epigenetic control of transcription of the ERα gene ESR1 has not been studied. Here, we show that silencing of MTA1 reduced the level of expression of ERα in ERα-positive cells but increased it in ERα-negative cells. In both MCF7 and MDA-MB-231, MTA1 was recruited to the region +146 to +461 bp downstream of the transcription start site of ESR1 (ERpro315). Proteomics analysis of the MTA1 complex that was pulled down by an oligonucleotide encoding ERpro315 revealed that the transcription factor AP-2γ (TFAP2C) and the IFN-γ-inducible protein 16 (IFI16) were components of the complex. Interestingly, in MCF7, TFAP2C activated the reporter encoding ERpro315 and the level of ERα mRNA. By contrast, in MDA-MB-231, IFI16 repressed the promoter activity and silencing of MTA1 increased expression of ERα. Importantly, class II HDACs are involved in the MTA1-mediated differential regulation of ERα. Finally, an MDA-MB-231-derived cell line that stably expressed shIFI16 or shMTA1 was more susceptible to tamoxifen-induced growth inhibition in in vitro and in vivo experiments. Taken together, our findings suggest that the MTA1-TFAP2C or the MTA1-IFI16 complex may contribute to the epigenetic regulation of ESR1 expression in breast cancer and may determine the chemosensitivity of tumors to tamoxifen therapy in patients with breast cancer.

Spanheimer PM, Cyr AR, Gillum MP, et al.
Distinct pathways regulated by RET and estrogen receptor in luminal breast cancer demonstrate the biological basis for combination therapy.
Ann Surg. 2014; 259(4):793-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: We investigated directed therapy based on TFAP2C-regulated pathways to inform new therapeutic approaches for treatment of luminal breast cancer.
BACKGROUND: TFAP2C regulates the expression of genes characterizing the luminal phenotype including ESR1 and RET, but pathway cross talk and potential for distinct elements have not been characterized.
METHODS: Activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) and AKT was assessed using phosphorylation-specific Western blot. Cell proliferation was measured with MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] after siRNA (small interfering RNA) gene knockdown or drug treatment. Cell cycle, Ki-67, and cleaved caspase 3 were measured by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Tumorigenesis was assessed in mice xenografts.
RESULTS: Knockdown of TFAP2C or RET inhibited GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor)-mediated activation of ERK and AKT in MCF-7 cells. Similarly, sunitinib, a small-molecule inhibitor of RET, blocked GDNF-mediated activation of ERK and AKT. Inhibition of RET either by gene knockdown or by treatment with sunitinib or vandetanib reduced RET-dependent growth of luminal breast cancer cells. Interestingly, knockdown of TFAP2C, which controls both ER (estrogen receptor) and RET, demonstrated a greater effect on cell growth than either RET or ER alone. Parallel experiments using treatment with tamoxifen and sunitinib confirmed the increased effectiveness of dual inhibition of the ER and RET pathways in regulating cell growth. Whereas targeting the ER pathway altered cell proliferation, as measured by Ki-67 and S-phase, anti-RET primarily increased apoptosis, as demonstrated by cleaved caspase 3 and increased TUNEL (terminal deoxyneucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling) expression in xenografts.
CONCLUSIONS: ER and RET primarily function through distinct pathways regulating proliferation and cell survival, respectively. The findings inform a therapeutic approach based on combination therapy with antiestrogen and anti-RET in luminal breast cancer.

Lal G, Contreras PG, Kulak M, et al.
Human Melanoma cells over-express extracellular matrix 1 (ECM1) which is regulated by TFAP2C.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(9):e73953 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Extracellular matrix 1 (ECM1) is over-expressed in multiple epithelial malignancies. However, knowledge regarding the expression of ECM1 in melanomas and the mechanisms of ECM1 regulation is limited. In this study, we found that ECM1 is over-expressed in several melanoma cell lines, when compared to primary melanocytes, and furthermore, that ECM1 expression paralleled that of TFAP2C levels in multiple cell lines. Knockdown of TFAP2C in the A375 cell line with siRNA led to a reduction in ECM1 expression, and upregulation of TFAP2C with adenoviral vectors in the WM793 cell line resulted in ECM1 upregulation. Utilizing 5' RACE to identify transcription start sites (TSS) and luciferase reporter assays in the ECM1-overexpressing A375 cell line, we identified the minimal promoter region of human ECM1 and demonstrate that an approximately 100bp fragment upstream of the TSS containing a TATA box and binding sites for AP1, SP1 and Ets is sufficient for promoter activity. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and direct sequencing (ChIP-seq) for TFAP2C in the A375 cell line identified an AP2 regulatory region in the promoter of the ECM1 gene. Gelshift assays further confirmed binding of TFAP2C to this site. ECM1 knockdown reduces melanoma cell attachment and is consistent with findings that ECM1 overexpression has been associated with a poor prognosis. Our investigations show an as yet unrecognized role for TFAP2C in melanoma via its regulation of ECM1.

Spanheimer PM, Askeland RW, Kulak MV, et al.
High TFAP2C/low CD44 expression is associated with an increased rate of pathologic complete response following neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer.
J Surg Res. 2013; 184(1):519-25 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: In luminal breast cancer cell lines, TFAP2C regulates expression of key genes in the estrogen receptor-associated cluster and represses basal-associated genes including CD44. We examined the effect of TFAP2C overexpression in a basal cell line and characterized the expression of TFAP2C and CD44 in breast cancer specimens to determine if expression was associated with clinical response.
METHODS: MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells were treated with a TFAP2C-containing plasmid and evaluated for effects on CD44 expression. Pretreatment biopsy cores from patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer were evaluated for TFAP2A, p53, TFAP2C, and CD44 expression by immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: Overexpression of TFAP2C in MDA-MB-231 cells resulted in decreased expression of CD44 mRNA and protein, P < 0.05. A pathologic complete response (pCR) following neoadjuvant chemotherapy was achieved in 17% of patients (4/23). Average expression for TFAP2C by immunohistochemistry in patients with a pCR was 93%, compared with 46% in patients with residual disease, P = 0.016; and in tumors that stained at ≥80% for TFAP2C, 4 of 9 (44%) achieved pCR, compared with 0 of 14 below 80%, P = 0.01. Additionally, in tumors that stained ≤80% for CD44, 4 of 10 (40%) achieved pCR, compared with 0 of 13 >80%, P = 0.02. In tumors that stained high for TFAP2C (≥80%) and low for CD44 (≤80%), 4 of 7 (57%) achieved pCR, compared with 0 of 16 in all other groups (P = 0.004).
CONCLUSIONS: TFAP2C repressed CD44 expression in basal-derived breast cancer. In primary breast cancer specimens, high TFAP2C and low CD44 expression were associated with pCR after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and could be predictive of tumors that have improved response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Shiu KK, Wetterskog D, Mackay A, et al.
Integrative molecular and functional profiling of ERBB2-amplified breast cancers identifies new genetic dependencies.
Oncogene. 2014; 33(5):619-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
Overexpression of the receptor tyrosine kinase ERBB2 (also known as HER2) occurs in around 15% of breast cancers and is driven by amplification of the ERBB2 gene. ERBB2 amplification is a marker of poor prognosis, and although anti-ERBB2-targeted therapies have shown significant clinical benefit, de novo and acquired resistance remains an important problem. Genomic profiling has demonstrated that ERBB2+ve breast cancers are distinguished from ER+ve and 'triple-negative' breast cancers by harbouring not only the ERBB2 amplification on 17q12, but also a number of co-amplified genes on 17q12 and amplification events on other chromosomes. Some of these genes may have important roles in influencing clinical outcome, and could represent genetic dependencies in ERBB2+ve cancers and therefore potential therapeutic targets. Here, we describe an integrated genomic, gene expression and functional analysis to determine whether the genes present within amplicons are critical for the survival of ERBB2+ve breast tumour cells. We show that only a fraction of the ERBB2-amplified breast tumour lines are truly addicted to the ERBB2 oncogene at the mRNA level and display a heterogeneous set of additional genetic dependencies. These include an addiction to the transcription factor gene TFAP2C when it is amplified and overexpressed, suggesting that TFAP2C represents a genetic dependency in some ERBB2+ve breast cancer cells.

Kulak MV, Cyr AR, Woodfield GW, et al.
Transcriptional regulation of the GPX1 gene by TFAP2C and aberrant CpG methylation in human breast cancer.
Oncogene. 2013; 32(34):4043-51 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The complexity of gene regulation has created obstacles to defining mechanisms that establish the patterns of gene expression characteristic of the different clinical phenotypes of breast cancer. TFAP2C is a transcription factor that has a critical role in the regulation of both estrogen receptor-alpha (ERα) and c-ErbB2/HER2 (Her2). Herein, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation and direct sequencing (ChIP-seq) for TFAP2C in four breast cancer cell lines. Comparing the genomic binding sites for TFAP2C, we identified that glutathione peroxidase (GPX1) is regulated by TFAP2C through an AP-2 regulatory region in the promoter of the GPX1 gene. Knockdown of TFAP2C, but not the related factor TFAP2A, resulted in an abrogation of GPX1 expression. Selenium-dependent GPX activity correlated with endogenous GPX1 expression and overexpression of exogenous GPX1 induced GPX activity and significantly increased resistance to tert-butyl hydroperoxide. Methylation of the CpG island encompassing the AP-2 regulatory region was identified in cell lines where TFAP2C failed to bind the GPX1 promoter and GPX1 expression was unresponsive to TFAP2C. Furthermore, in cell lines where GPX1 promoter methylation was associated with gene silencing, treatment with 5'-aza-2-deoxycytidine (5'-aza-dC) (an inhibitor of DNA methylation) allowed TFAP2C to bind to the GPX1 promoter resulting in the activation of GPX1 RNA and protein expression. Methylation of the GPX1 promoter was identified in ∼20% of primary breast cancers and a highly significant correlation between the TFAP2C and GPX1 expression was confirmed when considering only those tumors with an unmethylated promoter, whereas the related factor, TFAP2A, failed to demonstrate a correlation. The results demonstrate that TFAP2C regulates the expression of GPX1, which influences the redox state and sensitivity to oxidative stress induced by peroxides. Given the established role of GPX1 in breast cancer, the results provide an important mechanism for TFAP2C to further influence oncogenesis and progression of breast carcinoma cells.

Elmegeed GA, Khalil WK, Mohareb RM, et al.
Cytotoxicity and gene expression profiles of novel synthesized steroid derivatives as chemotherapeutic anti-breast cancer agents.
Bioorg Med Chem. 2011; 19(22):6860-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Anti-cancer agents which combine two biologically active compounds in one such as steroidal heterocyclic derivatives attain both hormone and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells. The aim of the present study is to synthesize and evaluate new potential chemotherapeutic anti-breast cancer agents. Several pyridazino-, pyrimido-, quinazolo-, oxirano- and thiazolo-steroid derivatives were synthesized. The structure of the novel steroid derivatives was confirmed using the analytical and spectral data. The most structurally promising of the novel synthesized steroid derivatives, compounds 8, 12, 17, 20, 22c, 24c, 30a and 30b, were investigated individually as anti-breast cancer agents against human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) using sulforhodamine B (SRB) assay. The tested compounds 17, 20, 22c and 8 showed potent broad spectrum cytotoxic activity in vitro after 48 h incubation. Compound 17 (IC(50)=2.5 μM) exhibited more inhibitory influence on MCF-7 growth than the reference drug doxorubicin (Dox) (IC(50)=4.5 μM) after 48 h incubation. Also, the present study showed that all the tested steroid derivatives exhibited significant depletion with various intensities in gene expression of breast cancer related genes (VEGF, CYP19 and hAP-2γ). Noteworthy, compounds 17, 20 and 22c showed the most pronounced effect in this respect.

Nettersheim D, Gillis A, Biermann K, et al.
The seminoma cell line TCam-2 is sensitive to HDAC inhibitor depsipeptide but tolerates various other chemotherapeutic drugs and loss of NANOG expression.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2011; 50(12):1033-42 [PubMed] Related Publications
Seminomas and embryonal carcinomas (EC) are both type II germ cell tumor (GCT) entities and develop from the same precursor lesion (carcinoma-in situ, CIS). However, they show significant differences in growth behavior, differentiation potential, and gene expression. Although ECs are prone to differentiate into all three germ layers and give rise to the non-seminomatous GCT entities teratoma, choriocarcinoma, and yolk-sac tumor, differentiation of seminomas to these entities is only rarely observed. This might reflect the ability of seminomas to actively inhibit differentiation processes evoked by environmental cues. Also, it is not known why CIS gives rise to seminoma in some patients and to non-seminoma in the others. Here, we treated the seminoma-like cell line TCam-2 with the HDAC-inhibitor Depsipeptide, the global demethylating agent 5-aza-2'-deocycytidine, all-trans retinoic acid and the monaminooxidase inhibitor Tranylcipromine and also used knock down approaches to reduce expression of the pluripotency marker NANOG and/or the inhibitor of primordial germ cell differentiation TFAP2C. We found that TCam-2 cells induce apoptosis when treated with Depsipeptide (> 10 nM) but are resistant to treatments with 5-aza-2'-deocycytidine, all-trans retinoic acid and Tranylcipromine, highlighting Depsi as a treatment option for seminomas. We show that TCam-2 cells up-regulate endoderm- and throphectoderm-associated genes after down-regulation of NANOG expression; however, morphologically no indications of differentiation could be found. Instead, we observed up-regulation of OCT3/4 and SOX17 in TCam-2-NANOG knockdown and speculate that this compensates for the loss of the NANOG protein. Hence, NANOG is not a primary target gene responsible for the inhibition of differentiation in seminomas.

Stine ZE, McGaughey DM, Bessling SL, et al.
Steroid hormone modulation of RET through two estrogen responsive enhancers in breast cancer.
Hum Mol Genet. 2011; 20(19):3746-56 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
RET, a gene causatively mutated in Hirschsprung disease and cancer, has recently been implicated in breast cancer estrogen (E2) independence and tamoxifen resistance. RET displays both E2 and retinoic acid (RA)-dependent transcriptional modulation in E2-responsive breast cancers. However, the regulatory elements through which the steroid hormone transcriptional regulation of RET is mediated are poorly defined. Recent genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation-based studies have identified 10 putative E2 receptor-alpha (ESR1) and RA receptor alpha-binding sites at the RET locus, of which we demonstrate only two (RET -49.8 and RET +32.8) display significant E2 regulatory response when assayed independently in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. We demonstrate that endogenous RET expression and RET -49.8 regulatory activity are cooperatively regulated by E2 and RA in breast cancer cells. We identify key sequences that are required for RET -49.8 and RET +32.8 E2 responsiveness, including motifs known to be bound by ESR1, FOXA1 and TFAP2C. We also report that both RET -49.8 regulatory activity and endogenous RET expression are completely dependent on ESR1 for their (E2)-induction and that ESR1 is sufficient to mediate the E2-induced enhancer activity of RET -49.8 and RET +32.8. Finally, using zebrafish transgenesis, we also demonstrate that RET -49.8 directs reporter expression in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system consistent with the endogenous ret expression. Taken collectively, these data suggest that RET transcription in breast cancer cells is modulated by E2 via ESR1 acting on multiple elements collectively.

Bell A, Bell D, Weber RS, El-Naggar AK
CpG island methylation profiling in human salivary gland adenoid cystic carcinoma.
Cancer. 2011; 117(13):2898-909 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: DNA methylation is a fundamental epigenetic event associated with physiologic and pathologic conditions, including cancer. Hypermethylation of CpG islands at active gene promoters leads to transcriptional repression, whereas hypomethylation is associated with gene overexpression. The aim of this study was to identify genes in adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) of salivary gland strongly deregulated by epigenetic CpG island methylation, to validate selected genes by conventional techniques, and to correlate the findings with clinicopathologic factors.
METHODS: The authors analyzed 16 matched normal and tumor tissues for aberrant DNA methylation using the methylated CpG island amplification and microarray method and the pyrosequencing technique.
RESULTS: Microarray analysis showed hypomethylation in 7 and hypermethylation in 32 CpG islands. Hypomethylation was identified in CpG islands near FBXO17, PHKG1, LOXL1, DOCK1, and PARVG. Hypermethylation was identified near genes encoding predominantly transcription factors (EN1, FOXE1, GBX2, FOXL1, TBX4, MEIS1, LBX2, NR2F2, POU3F3, IRX3, TFAP2C, NKX2-4, PITX1, NKX2-5), and 13 genes with different functions (MT1H, EPHX3, AQPEP, BCL2L11, SLC35D3, S1PR5, PNLIPRP1, CLIC6, RASAL, XRN2, GSTM5, FNDC1, INSRR). Four CpG islands by EN1, FOXE1, TBX4, and PITX1 were validated by pyrosequencing.
CONCLUSIONS: The highly methylated genes in tumor versus normal tissue are linked to developmental, apoptotic, and other fundamental cellular pathways, suggesting that down-regulation of these genes is associated with ACC development and progression. With EN1 hypermethylation showing potential as a possible biomarker for ACC in salivary gland, the biological and therapeutic implications of these findings require further preclinical investigations.

Schäfer S, Anschlag J, Nettersheim D, et al.
The role of BLIMP1 and its putative downstream target TFAP2C in germ cell development and germ cell tumours.
Int J Androl. 2011; 34(4 Pt 2):e152-8; discussion e158-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
During the past years, much information has been gathered regarding the genetic and epigenetic programmes leading to the specification and maintenance of primordial germ cells. Expression of the transcriptional regulator BLIMP1 (PRDM1) is regarded as the main event in germ cell specification. BLIMP1 induces a set of target genes, one of them being transcription factor TFAP2C (AP-2γ, Tcfap2c). In murine loss of function models Blimp1 and Tcfap2c share an identical phenotype, strengthening the assumption that they act in the same pathway. One major role of this pathway is the inhibition of somatic differentiation in germ cells. BLIMP1 and TFAP2C are also expressed in carcinoma in situ (CIS, IGCNU, TIN) and in seminoma. As pointed out herein, the presence of both proteins helps to explain the undifferentiated nature of these germ cell tumours. In addition, we performed a meta-analysis of high-throughput datasets searching for TFAP2C/Tcfap2c target genes. This analysis leads us to suggest Nanos3, Dmrt1 and Dnmt3b as potential TFAP2C/Tcfap2c target genes with relevance to germ cell development and germ cell tumours.

Gabriely G, Yi M, Narayan RS, et al.
Human glioma growth is controlled by microRNA-10b.
Cancer Res. 2011; 71(10):3563-72 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
MicroRNA (miRNA) expression profiling studies revealed a number of miRNAs dysregulated in the malignant brain tumor glioblastoma. Molecular functions of these miRNAs in gliomagenesis are mainly unknown. We show that inhibition of miR-10b, a miRNA not expressed in human brain and strongly upregulated in both low-grade and high-grade gliomas, reduces glioma cell growth by cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. These cellular responses are mediated by augmented expression of the direct targets of miR-10b, including BCL2L11/Bim, TFAP2C/AP-2γ, CDKN1A/p21, and CDKN2A/p16, which normally protect cells from uncontrolled growth. Analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas expression data set reveals a strong positive correlation between numerous genes sustaining cellular growth and miR-10b levels in human glioblastomas, while proapoptotic genes anticorrelate with the expression of miR-10b. Furthermore, survival of glioblastoma patients expressing high levels of miR-10 family members is significantly reduced in comparison to patients with low miR-10 levels, indicating that miR-10 may contribute to glioma growth in vivo. Finally, inhibition of miR-10b in a mouse model of human glioma results in significant reduction of tumor growth. Altogether, our experiments validate an important role of miR-10b in gliomagenesis, reveal a novel mechanism of miR-10b-mediated regulation, and suggest the possibility of its future use as a therapeutic target in gliomas.

Penna E, Orso F, Cimino D, et al.
microRNA-214 contributes to melanoma tumour progression through suppression of TFAP2C.
EMBO J. 2011; 30(10):1990-2007 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Malignant melanoma is fatal in its metastatic stage. It is therefore essential to unravel the molecular mechanisms that govern disease progression to metastasis. MicroRNAs (miRs) are endogenous non-coding RNAs involved in tumourigenesis. Using a melanoma progression model, we identified a novel pathway controlled by miR-214 that coordinates metastatic capability. Pathway components include TFAP2C, homologue of a well-established melanoma tumour suppressor, the adhesion receptor ITGA3 and multiple surface molecules. Modulation of miR-214 influences in vitro tumour cell movement and survival to anoikis as well as extravasation from blood vessels and lung metastasis formation in vivo. Considering that miR-214 is known to be highly expressed in human melanomas, our data suggest a critical role for this miRNA in disease progression and the establishment of distant metastases.

Harbst K, Staaf J, Måsbäck A, et al.
Multiple metastases from cutaneous malignant melanoma patients may display heterogeneous genomic and epigenomic patterns.
Melanoma Res. 2010; 20(5):381-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
Disseminated melanoma is an aggressive disease with fatal outcome. Better understanding of the underlying biology is needed to find effective treatment. We applied microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization, gene expression and CpG island methylation analysis of primary tumors and multiple metastases from five melanoma patients with the aim of analyzing the molecular patterns of melanoma progression. Epigenetic profiling showed that the multiple metastases after a single primary melanoma share similar methylation patterns for many genes, although differences in methylation between the lesions were evident for several genes, example, PTEN, TFAP2C, and RARB. In addition, DNA copy number and global gene expression profiles of tumors from individual patients were highly similar, confirming common origin of metastases. Some of the identified genomic aberrations, for example, gain of chromosome 6p and loss of chromosomes 6q and 10, persisted during progression, indicating early changes highly important for melanoma development. Homozygous deletions at 3p26.1 and 6q23.2-q23.3 appeared in two consecutive metastases originating from the same primary tumor, respectively, in a mutually exclusive manner that provides evidence for two genetically different subclones. However, in another case, the similarity of the copy number aberrations in subsequent metastatic lesions suggests sequential metastatic development through the clonal evolution. These data are further corroborated by a switch in CDH1 and CDH2 expression between metastases from the same patient. In conclusion, our results provide evidence for different models of metastatic progression in melanoma.

Woodfield GW, Chen Y, Bair TB, et al.
Identification of primary gene targets of TFAP2C in hormone responsive breast carcinoma cells.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2010; 49(10):948-62 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The TFAP2C transcription factor is involved in mammary development, differentiation, and oncogenesis. Previous studies established a role for TFAP2C in the regulation of ESR1 (ERalpha) and ERBB2 (Her2) in breast carcinomas. However, the role of TFAP2C in different breast cancer phenotypes has not been examined in detail. To develop a more complete characterization of TFAP2C target genes, ChIP-seq with anti-TFAP2C antibody and expression arrays with TFAP2C knock down were analyzed in MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells. Genomic sequences common to the ChIP-seq data set defined the consensus sequence for TFAP2C chromatin binding as the nine base sequence SCCTSRGGS (S = G/C, r = A/G), which closely matches the previously defined optimal in vitro binding site. Comparing expression arrays before and after knock down of TFAP2C with ChIP-seq data demonstrated a conservative estimate that 8% of genes altered by TFAP2C expression are primary target genes and includes genes that are both induced and repressed by TFAP2C. A set of 447 primary target genes of TFAP2C was identified, which included ESR1 (ERalpha), FREM2, RET, FOXA1, WWOX, GREB1, MYC, and members of the retinoic acid response pathway. The identification of ESR1, WWOX, GREB1, and FOXA1 as primary targets confirmed the role of TFAP2C in hormone response. TFAP2C plays a critical role in gene regulation in hormone responsive breast cancer and its target genes are different than for the Her2 breast cancer phenotype.

Tong WG, Wierda WG, Lin E, et al.
Genome-wide DNA methylation profiling of chronic lymphocytic leukemia allows identification of epigenetically repressed molecular pathways with clinical impact.
Epigenetics. 2010; 5(6):499-508 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We performed a genome-wide analysis of aberrant DNA methylation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) using methylated CpG island amplification (MCA) coupled with a promoter microarray. We identified 280 potential targets of aberrant DNA methylation in CLL. These genes were located more frequently in chromosomes 19 (16%, p=0.001), 16 (11%, p=0.001), 17 (10%, p=0.02) and 11 (9%, p=0.02) and could be grouped in several functional networks. Methylation status was confirmed for 22 of these genes (SOX11, DLX1, FAM62C, SOX14, RSPO1, ADCY5, HAND2,SPOCK, MLL, ING1, PRIMA1, BCL11B, LTBP2, BNC1, NR2F2, SALL1, GALGT2, LHX1, DLX4, KLK10, TFAP2 and APP) in 78 CLL patients by pyrosequencing. As a proof of principle, we analyzed the expression of 2 genes, PRIMA1 and APP, in primary cells and of GALGT2, TFAP2C and PRIMA1 in leukemia cells. There was an inverse association between methylation and gene expression. This could be reversed by treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine in cell lines. Treatment in a clinical trial with 5-azacitidine resulted in decreased methylation of LINE, DLX4 and SALL1 in the peripheral blood B-cells of patients with CLL. IgVH mutational status or ZAP-70 expression were not associated with specific methylation profiles. By multivariate analysis, methylation of LINE and APP was associated with shorter overall survival (p = 0.045 and 0.0035, respectively). This study demonstrates that aberrant DNA methylation is common and has potential prognostic and therapeutic value in CLL.

Woodfield GW, Hitchler MJ, Chen Y, et al.
Interaction of TFAP2C with the estrogen receptor-alpha promoter is controlled by chromatin structure.
Clin Cancer Res. 2009; 15(11):3672-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
PURPOSE: Transcriptional regulation of estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) involves both epigenetic mechanisms and trans-active factors, such as TFAP2C, which induces ERalpha transcription through an AP-2 regulatory region in the ERalpha promoter. Attempts to induce endogenous ERalpha expression in ERalpha-negative breast carcinomas by forced overexpression of TFAP2C have not been successful. We hypothesize that epigenetic chromatin structure alters the activity of TFAP2C at the ERalpha promoter.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: DNA methylation, histone acetylation, and chromatin accessibility were examined at the ERalpha promoter in a panel of breast carcinoma cell lines. TFAP2C and polymerase II binding were analyzed by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Epigenetic chromatin structure was altered using drug treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (AZA) and trichostatin A (TSA).
RESULTS: The ERalpha promoter in the ERalpha-negative lines MDA-MB-231, MCF10A, and MCF7-5C show CpG island methylation, histone 3 lysine 9 deacetylation, and decreased chromatin accessibility compared with ERalpha-positive cell lines MCF7 and T47-D. Treatment with AZA/TSA increased chromatin accessibility at the ERalpha promoter and allowed TFAP2C to induce ERalpha expression in ERalpha-negative cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that binding of TFAP2C to the ERalpha promoter is blocked in ERalpha-negative cells but that treatment with AZA/TSA enabled TFAP2C and polymerase II binding.
CONCLUSION: We conclude that the activity of TFAP2C at specific target genes depends upon epigenetic chromatin structure. Furthermore, the combination of increasing chromatin accessibility and inducing TFAP2C provides a more robust activation of the ERalpha gene in ERalpha-negative breast cancer cells.

Malta-Vacas J, Chauvin C, Gonçalves L, et al.
eRF3a/GSPT1 12-GGC allele increases the susceptibility for breast cancer development.
Oncol Rep. 2009; 21(6):1551-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
It is now widely recognized that translation factors are involved in cancer development and that components of the translation machinery that are deregulated in cancer cells may become targets for cancer therapy. The eukaryotic Release Factor 3 (eRF3) is a GTPase that associates with eRF1 in a complex that mediates translation termination. eRF3a/GSPT1 first exon contains a (GGC)n expansion coding for proteins with different N-terminal extremities. Herein we show that the longer allele (12-GGC) is present in 5.1% (7/137) of the breast cancer patients analysed and is absent in the control population (0/135), corresponding to an increased risk for cancer development, as revealed by Odds Ratio analysis. mRNA quantification suggests that patients with the 12-GGC allele overexpress eRF3a/GSPT1 in tumor tissues relative to the normal adjacent tissues. However, using an in vivo assay for translation termination in HEK293 cells, we do not detect any difference in the activity of the eRF3a proteins encoded by the various eRF3a/GSPT1 alleles. Although the connection between the presence of eRF3a/GSPT1 12-GGC allele and tumorigenesis is still unknown, our data suggest that the presence of the 12-GGC allele provides a potential novel risk marker for various types of cancer.

Chalabi N, Bernard-Gallon DJ, Bignon YJ, et al.
Comparative clinical and transcriptomal profiles of breast cancer between French and South Mediterranean patients show minor but significative biological differences.
Cancer Genomics Proteomics. 2008 Sep-Oct; 5(5):253-61 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: In Western countries, breast cancer incidence and mortality are higher than in Mediterranean countries. These differences have been ascribed to environmental factors but also to late-stage diagnostic and biological specific characteristics.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between September 2002 and September 2005, we collected clinical data by phone counselling 180 French and Mediterranean breast cancer patients and performed microarray experiments.
RESULTS: Characteristics of breast cancer in patients from Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco were more aggressive (more SBR grade III and positive node invasion) and patients were 10 years younger at diagnosis. Sixteen differentially expressed genes such as MMP9, VEGF, PHB1, BRCA1, TFAP2C, GJA1 and TFF1 were also found. Additionally, an up-regulation of cytokeratins KRT8 and KRT18 may indicate a luminal B subtype in "South" (Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco) tumors while "North" (France) tumors may more frequently be luminal A type.
CONCLUSION: This study allowed the identification of specific clinical and transcriptomic parameters in patients from South Mediterranean countries.

Gee JM, Eloranta JJ, Ibbitt JC, et al.
Overexpression of TFAP2C in invasive breast cancer correlates with a poorer response to anti-hormone therapy and reduced patient survival.
J Pathol. 2009; 217(1):32-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
The AP-2gamma transcription factor encoded by the TFAP2C gene is a member of a family of homologous DNA binding proteins that play essential roles during vertebrate embryogenesis but show a restricted pattern of expression in the adult. Elevated expression of the AP-2alpha and AP-2gamma family members has been associated with a number of neoplasms, particularly breast cancer. Here we present an exploratory immunohistochemical study of an archival primary breast tumour series (n = 75) with parallel clinicopathological data using a new, well-characterized antibody to AP-2gamma. Heterogeneous, exclusively nuclear expression of AP-2gamma was found in the epithelial and myoepithelial compartments of normal breast and within tumour epithelial cells. In the breast cancer series, the most notable association was a correlation between elevated levels of AP-2gamma and shortened patient survival (p = 0.0009*). This relationship was also conserved in ER-positive and ErbB2-negative patients; sub-groups generally considered to have a relatively good prognosis. When patient data for survival and duration of treatment response on anti-hormone therapy were examined by multivariate analysis, AP-2gamma was revealed in this study to be an independent predictor of outcome for both survival (p = 0.005) and response to anti-hormone therapy (p = 0.046). Studies using in vitro models confirmed that while tamoxifen response is associated with lower levels of AP-2gamma, acquisition of resistance to this and other anti-hormone measures (eg faslodex or oestrogen deprivation) is associated with high levels of nuclear AP-2gamma. Together these data suggest that elevated tumour AP-2gamma expression can contribute to the failure of cells to growth arrest following anti-hormone treatment and lead to sustained growth and poorer patient outcome.

Yang J, Zhang W
WWOX tumor suppressor gene.
Histol Histopathol. 2008; 23(7):877-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Loss of heterozygosity and chromosomal rearrangement of the WWOX gene, which is located at 16q23.3-24.1, have been detected in ovarian, breast, hepatocellular, and prostate carcinomas and in other neoplasias. This gene, which spans the common chromosomal fragile site 16D, contains 9 exons and encodes a 46 kDa WWOX protein that contains 414 amino acids. The evidence from cancer cell lines and primary tumor tissues suggests that WWOX is a tumor suppressor gene and that its inactivation contributes to cancer development. The results from studies of WWOX gene knockout cancer cells and a WWOX knockout mouse model partly confirm this hypothesis. The nature of the various proteins that the WWOX protein can interact with, such as c-Jun, TNF, p53, p73, AP-2 gamma, and E2F-1, suggests that WWOX plays a central role in tumor suppression through transcriptional repression and apoptosis, with its apoptotic function the more prominent of the two. However, there is not universal agreement that WWOX is a tumor suppressor gene. Further analysis is needed to reveal the true nature of WWOX.

Kristensen DM, Sonne SB, Ottesen AM, et al.
Origin of pluripotent germ cell tumours: the role of microenvironment during embryonic development.
Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2008; 288(1-2):111-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Carcinoma in situ (CIS) testis, known also as intratubular germ cell neoplasia, is the cancer stem cell from which the great majority of testicular germ cell derived tumours (TGCTs) of the testis arise. TGCTs can proliferate into morphologically homogeneous seminomas or can differentiate into virtually any type of tissue and form teratomas (non-seminomas). CIS cells display a close phenotypic similarity to fetal germ cells (primordial germ cells or gonocytes) suggesting an origin due to a developmental delay or arrest of differentiation of early germ cells. The pluripotency of these neoplasms has recently been explained by a close resemblance of their expression profile to that of embryonic inner cell mass cells studied in culture as embryonic stem cells, with high expression of transcription factors associated with pluripotency, such as NANOG and OCT3/4, as well as proteins found in several tissue specific stem cells, such as TFAP2C (AP-2gamma) or KIT. CIS and seminomas highly express a number of pre-meiotic germ cell specific genes, which are down-regulated during development to non-seminomas, while the expression of other embryonic markers, such as SOX2, is up-regulated. The mechanistic pathways and causative factors remain to be elucidated of both the initial transformation of fetal germ cells into CIS cells and the progression of CIS cells into an invasive tumour in the young adult. However, evidence supported by epidemiological studies indicate that disturbances in the hormonal microenvironment of the differentiating gonads may results in both the neoplasia and a host of other problems later in life, such as genital malformations, decreased spermatogenesis, and signs of hypogonadism.

Hoei-Hansen CE
Application of stem cell markers in search for neoplastic germ cells in dysgenetic gonads, extragonadal tumours, and in semen of infertile men.
Cancer Treat Rev. 2008; 34(4):348-67 [PubMed] Related Publications
Germ cell tumours (GCTs) are a complex entity. Current areas of attention include early detection and avoidance of unnecessary over-treatment. Novel findings regarding diagnosis of GCTs located in various anatomical sites are described, particularly testicular GCTs and their common progenitor, carcinoma in situ (CIS). Recognition of CIS enables intervention before tumour development, but nevertheless, testicular GCTs are sporadically diagnosed at the pre-invasive stage where minimal treatment is necessary. As presence of CIS is asymptomatic, a simple screening method is needed when CIS is suspected (i.e. in males investigated for infertility). To develop approaches for early detection CIS gene expression studies have been performed showing many similarities with embryonic stem cells with confirmation of established markers (i.e. PLAP, OCT-3/4, KIT) and identification of novel markers (i.e. AP-2 gamma, NANOG). We have reported a very promising new approach of AP-2 gamma (or OCT3/4) based immunocytological semen analysis (specificity 93.6%, sensitivity 54.5%). Comparative studies of gonadal/extragonadal GCTs have revealed resemblance pointing towards similar, but not identical, origins. Moreover, infertility and testicular cancer are connected in the 'Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome' and 25% of contralateral testes from testicular GCT patients harbour dysgenetic features, including impaired spermatogenesis. Thus, recent data have provided potential diagnostic tools including CIS detection in semen, microarray-based tumour classification, additional serological GCT markers, and novel stem cell markers for immunohistochemical diagnosis of gonadal and extragonadal GCTs. Many CIS candidate genes are yet uninvestigated, and information from these could increase knowledge about CIS tumour initiation/progression and be used for optimisation of a non-invasive detection method.

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