Journal Article

Dysregulation of WNT/CTNNB1 and PI3K/AKT signaling in testicular stromal cells causes granulosa cell tumor of the testis

Alexandre Boyer, Marilène Paquet, Marie-Noëlle Laguë, Louis Hermo and Derek Boerboom

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 30, issue 5, pages 869-878
Published in print May 2009 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online February 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgp051
Dysregulation of WNT/CTNNB1 and PI3K/AKT signaling in testicular stromal cells causes granulosa cell tumor of the testis

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Synergistic effects of dysregulation of the WNT/CTNNB1 and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathways are thought to be important for the development and progression of many forms of cancer, including the granulosa cell tumor of the ovary. Sustained WNT/CTNNB1 signaling in Sertoli cells causes testicular degeneration and the formation of foci of poorly differentiated stromal cells in the seminiferous tubules in mice. To test if concomitant dysregulation of the WNT/CTNNB1 and PI3K/AKT pathways could synergize to cause testicular cancer, Ptentm1Hwu/tm1Hwu;Ctnnb1tm1Mmt/+;Amhr2tm3(cre)Bhr/+ mice that express a dominant, stable CTNNB1 mutant and lack the expression of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) in their Sertoli cells were generated. These mice developed aggressive testicular cancer with 100% penetrance by 5 weeks of age, and 44% of animals developed pulmonary metastases by 4 months, whereas Ptentm1Hwu/tm1Hwu;Amhr2tm3(cre)Bhr/+ controls were phenotypically normal. Surprisingly, the tumors could not be classified as Sertoli cell tumors, but rather bore histologic and ultrastructural characteristics of granulosa cell tumors of the testis (GCTT). Ptentm1Hwu/tm1Hwu;Ctnnb1tm1Mmt/+;Amhr2tm3(cre)Bhr/+ testicular tumors did not express CYP17, CYP19, germ cell nuclear antigen, estrogen receptor 1 or progesterone receptor, but expressed the early granulosa cell markers WNT4 and FOXL2, confirming the diagnosis of GCTT. Immunohistochemical analyses of Ptentm1Hwu/tm1Hwu;Ctnnb1tm1Mmt/+;Amhr2tm3(cre)Bhr/+ GCTT demonstrated a tumor marker profile similar to that reported in human GCTT. Immunoblotting analyses revealed high levels of phosphorylation of AKT and the PI3K/AKT signaling effector FOXO1A in Ptentm1Hwu/tm1Hwu;Ctnnb1tm1Mmt/+;Amhr2tm3(cre)Bhr/+ GCTT, suggesting the involvement of FOXO1A in the mechanism of GCTT development. Together, these data provide the first insights into the molecular etiology of GCTT and the first animal model for the study of GCTT biology.

Journal Article.  6065 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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