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Am J Pathol. 2003 Aug;163(2):387-91.

Hypermethylation of the RUNX3 gene promoter in testicular yolk sac tumor of infants.

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Department of Pathology, Yamagata University School of Medicine, Yamagata, Japan.


Testicular yolk sac tumor (YST) of infants is biologically distinct from its adult counterpart. Cytogenetically, YSTs in infants generally lack i(12p), which is highly characteristic of adult germ cell tumors (GCTs), whereas they frequently show a deletion of 1p36, indicating that the loss of a certain gene(s) in this region is an important event in the pathogenesis of infantile YSTs. In the present study, we examined 10 testicular YSTs from infants for promoter methylation status of the RUNX3 gene, localizing in 1p36.1, and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in this region, on the presumption that RUNX3 acts as a tumor suppressor. Methylation of RUNX3 and LOH at 1p36.1 were detected in 8 of 10 (80%) and 6 of 8 (75%) infantile YSTs examined, respectively. All six cases harboring LOH showed RUNX3 methylation. In contrast, 0 of 12 adult GCTs showed RUNX3 methylation, and LOH at 1p36.1 was less frequent (1 of 6 cases: 16%) in adult GCTs. There is a significant difference in RUNX3 methylation between these 2 groups (P < 0.001). In normal testes of the young group, RUNX3 methylation was not detected. These results strongly suggest that RUNX3 is one of the tumor suppressors involved in the pathogenesis of testicular YSTs in infants.

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