• Open Access

Alterations of the c-kit gene in testicular germ cell tumors


To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ssakurai@jichi.ac.jp


Expression and gain-of-function mutation of the c-kit gene, that encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase (KIT), have been reported in mast cell tumors and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). Among human testicular germ cell tumors (GCTs), seminomas and seminoma components of mixed GCTs have also been shown to express KIT, but only one study has found the c-kit gene mutation at exon 17 in seminoma. To elucidate the frequency and location of the c-kit gene mutation of testicular GCTs, we analyzed the whole coding region of the c-kit complementary DNA along with 4 mutational hot spots (exons 9, 11, 13 and 17) of the c-kit genomic DNA by polymerase chain reaction and direct sequencing. Somatic mutations were found in 4 pure seminomas of 34 testicular GCTs (11.8%). One mutation was found in exon 11 (W557R) and the others were observed in exon 17 (D816H and D816V). These types of mutations were reported in GISTs (W557R), seminoma (D816H) and mastocytosis (D816V) and were considered to be gain-of-function mutations, although there were no differences of any clinicopathological factors or outcome between patients with and without mutations. Additionally, we also demonstrated coexpression of Gly-Asn-Asn-Lys510–513 (GNNK)+ and GNNK- isoforms of the c-kit gene with dominance of the GNNK- transcript in all testicular GCTs. The mutations and/or preferential expression of GNNK- isoform of the c-kit gene might play an important role in the development of testicular GCTs, and these tumors may also be targets for STI571, which is a promising drug for advanced and metastatic GISTs.