INVITED REVIEW
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 260-269

Battle of the sexes: contrasting roles of testis-specific protein Y-encoded (TSPY) and TSPX in human oncogenesis


Division of Cell and Developmental Genetics, Department of Medicine, VA Medical Center and Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Yun-Fai Chris Lau
Division of Cell and Developmental Genetics, Department of Medicine, VA Medical Center and Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/aja.aja_43_18

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The Y-located testis-specific protein Y-encoded (TSPY) and its X-homologue TSPX originated from the same ancestral gene, but act as a proto-oncogene and a tumor suppressor gene, respectively. TSPY has specialized in male-specific functions, while TSPX has assumed the functions of the ancestral gene. Both TSPY and TSPX harbor a conserved SET/NAP domain, but are divergent at flanking structures. Specifically, TSPX contains a C-terminal acidic domain, absent in TSPY. They possess contrasting properties, in which TSPY and TSPX, respectively, accelerate and arrest cell proliferation, stimulate and inhibit cyclin B-CDK1 phosphorylation activities, have no effect and promote proteosomal degradation of the viral HBx oncoprotein, and exacerbate and repress androgen receptor (AR) and constitutively active AR variant, such as AR-V7, gene transactivation. The inhibitory domain has been mapped to the carboxyl acidic domain in TSPX, truncation of which results in an abbreviated TSPX exerting positive actions as TSPY. Transposition of the acidic domain to the C-terminus of TSPY results in an inhibitory protein as intact TSPX. Hence, genomic mutations/aberrant splicing events could generate TSPX proteins with truncated acidic domain and oncogenic properties as those for TSPY. Further, TSPY is upregulated by AR and AR-V7 in ligand-dependent and ligand-independent manners, respectively, suggesting the existence of a positive feedback loop between a Y-located proto-oncogene and male sex hormone/receptors, thereby amplifying the respective male oncogenic actions in human cancers and diseases. TSPX counteracts such positive feedback loop. Hence, TSPY and TSPX are homologues on the sex chromosomes that function at the two extremes of the human oncogenic spectrum.


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