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APMIS. 2003 Jan;111(1):234-43; discussion 243-4.

Angiotensin I-converting enzyme and potential substrates in human testis and testicular tumours.

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  • 1Institute of Pathology, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany.


The angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE, kininase II, CD143) shows a broad specificity for various oligopeptides. Besides the well-known conversion of angiotensin I to II, ACE degrades efficiently kinins and the tetrapeptide AcSDKP (goralatide) and thus equally participates in the renin-angiotensin system, the kallikrein-kinin system, and the regulation of stem cell proliferation. In the mammalian testis, ACE occurs in two isoforms. The testicular isoform (tACE) is exclusively expressed during spermatogenesis and is generally thought to represent the germ cell-specific isozyme. However, we have previously demonstrated that, in addition to tACE, the somatic isoform (sACE) is also present in human germ cells. Similar to other oncofoetal markers, sACE exhibits a transient expression during foetal germ cell development and appears to be a constant feature of intratubular germ cell neoplasm, the so-called carcinoma-in-situ (CIS) and, in particular, of classic seminoma. This demands the existence of specific paracrine functions during male germ cell differentiation and development of male germ cell tumours, which are mediated by either of the two ACE isoforms. Considering the complexity of current data about ACE, a logical connection is required between (I) the precise localisation of ACE isoforms, (I) the local access to potential substrates and (II) functional data obtained by knockout mice models. The present article summarises the current knowledge about ACE and its potential substrates with special emphasis on the differentiation-restricted ACE expression during human spermatogenesis and prespermatogenesis, the latter being closely linked to the pathogenesis of human germ cell tumours.

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