The FHIT gene, located at human chromosome 3p14.2, is frequently deleted in a number of human cancers, and interstitial deletions at this site were recently described in a significant proportion (41%) of testicular germ cell tumors. We studied the expression of Fhit protein in the progression and differentiation of testicular germ cell tumors to further elucidate its role in this type of malignancy. Forty-five patients with testicular germ cell tumors and intratubular germ cell neoplasia (identified in 42/45 cases) were included in the study. Immunohistochemical staining with polyclonal rabbit IgG antibody to Fhit (ZR44, Zymed Laboratories) on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues was used. Fhit was constitutively expressed in germ cells, Sertoli cells, and Leydig cells. All 42 cases of intratubular germ cell neoplasia revealed no expression of this protein. No expression of Fhit was observed in any case of pure seminoma or in the seminomatous component of mixed germ cell tumors. Unexpectedly, Fhit expression was frequently (16/18) observed in the glandular tissue of mature teratomatous component of mixed germ cell tumors, despite the absence of Fhit in the intratubular germ cell neoplasia, the presumed precursor lesion. The loss of Fhit expression is a consistent characteristic of intratubular germ cell neoplasia, which suggests a potential role in a maturation/differentiation defect early in the development of testicular germ cell tumors. Likewise, the lack of expression in seminomas is supportive of this view. However, reexpression of Fhit in well-differentiated glandular epithelium of teratomatous component of mixed germ cell tumors suggests that there is no loss of FHIT gene in this subset of neoplasia but rather that Fhit protein expression is differently regulated through the phases of germ cell tumor progression.
- Testicular neoplasms
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine