Bone morphogenetic protein signalling activity distinguishes histological subsets of paediatric germ cell tumours

N. Fustino, Dinesh Rakheja, C. S. Ateek, J. C. Neumann, James F Amatruda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Germ cell tumours (GCTs) are cancers of the testis, ovary or extragonadal sites that occur in infants, children and adults. Testicular GCT is the most common cancer in young men aged 15-40years. Abnormalities in developmental signalling pathways such as wnt/β-catenin, TGF-β/BMP and Hedgehog have been described in many childhood tumours. To date, however, the status of BMP signalling in GCTs has not been described. Herein, we examine BMP-SMAD signalling in a set of clinically-annotated paediatric GCTs. We find that BMP signalling activity is absent in undifferentiated tumours such as seminomas and dysgerminomas, but robustly present in most yolk sac tumours, a differentiated tumour type. Gene expression profiling of TGF-β/BMP pathway genes in germinomas and yolk sac tumours reveals a set of genes that distinguish the two tumour types. There is significant intertumoural heterogeneity between tumours of the same histological subclass, implying that the BMP pathway can be differentially regulated in individual tumours. Finally, through miRNA expression profiling, we identify differential regulation of a set of miRNAs predicted to target the TGF-β/BMP pathway at multiple sites. Taken together, these results suggest that the BMP signalling pathway may represent a new therapeutical target for childhood GCTs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e218-e233
JournalInternational Journal of Andrology
Issue number4 PART 2
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Bone morphogenetic protein pathway
  • Cancer
  • Differentiation
  • Micro-RNA
  • Microarrays
  • Paediatrics
  • Testicular neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Urology


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