INVITED ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 403-414

Dynamic changes in the expression of apoptosis-related genes in differentiating gonocytes and in seminomas


The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, McGill University; Department of Medicine, McGill University; Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Martine Culty
The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, McGill University; Department of Medicine, McGill University; Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
Canada
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.146101

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Apoptosis is an integral part of the spermatogenic process, necessary to maintain a proper ratio of Sertoli to germ cell numbers and provide an adequate microenvironment to germ cells. Apoptosis may also represent a protective mechanism mediating the elimination of abnormal germ cells. Extensive apoptosis occurs between the first and second postnatal weeks, at the point when gonocytes, precursors of spermatogonial stem cells, should have migrated toward the basement membrane of the tubules and differentiated into spermatogonia. The mechanisms regulating this process are not well-understood. Gonocytes undergo phases of proliferation, migration, and differentiation which occur in a timely and closely regulated manner. Gonocytes failing to migrate and differentiate properly undergo apoptosis. Inadequate gonocyte differentiation has been suggested to lead to testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) formation. Here, we examined the expression levels of apoptosis-related genes during gonocyte differentiation by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, identifying 48 pro- and anti-apoptotic genes increased by at least two-fold in rat gonocytes induced to differentiate by retinoic acid, when compared to untreated gonocytes. Further analysis of the most highly expressed genes identified the pro-apoptotic genes Gadd45a and Cycs as upregulated in differentiating gonocytes and in spermatogonia compared with gonocytes. These genes were also significantly downregulated in seminomas, the most common type of TGCT, compared with normal human testicular tissues. These results indicate that apoptosis-related genes are actively regulated during gonocyte differentiation. Moreover, the down-regulation of pro-apoptotic genes in seminomas suggests that they could represent new therapeutic targets in the treatment of TGCTs.


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