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Germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS) is the noninvasive precursor of testicular germ cell tumors type II, the most common cancer in young men, which originates from embryonic germ cells blocked in their maturation. GCNIS is associated with impaired Sertoli cells (SCs) that express fetal keratin 18 (KRT18) and the pluripotency factor SRY-Box transcription factor 2 (SOX2). According to the current theory concerning the origin of GCNIS, these SCs are prepubertal cells arrested in their maturation due to (epi)genetic anomalies and/or environmental antiandrogens. Thus, they are unable to support the development of germ cells, which leads to their maturational block and further progresses into GCNIS. Alternatively, these SCs are hypothesized to be adult cells dedifferentiating secondarily under the influence of GCNIS. To examine whether tumor cells can dedifferentiate SCs, we established a coculture model of adult human SCs (FS1) and a seminoma cell line similar to GCNIS (TCam-2). After 2 wk of coculture, FS1 cells showed progressive expression of KRT18 and SOX2, mimicking the in vivo changes. TCam-2 cells showed SOX2 expression and upregulation of further pluripotency- and reprogramming-associated genes, suggesting a seminoma to embryonal carcinoma transition. Thus, our FS1/TCam-2 coculture model is a valuable tool for investigating interactions between SCs and seminoma cells. Our immunohistochemical and ultrastructural studies of human testicular biopsies with varying degrees of GCNIS compared to biopsies from fetuses, patients with androgen insensitivity syndrome, and patients showing normal spermatogenesis further suggest that GCNIS-associated SCs represent adult cells undergoing progressive dedifferentiation. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.


Cornelia Fink, Nelli Baal, Jochen Wilhelm, Poonam Sarode, Roswitha Weigel, Valérie Schumacher, Daniel Nettersheim, Hubert Schorle, Carmen Schröck, Martin Bergmann, Sabine Kliesch, Monika Kressin, Rajkumar Savai. On the origin of germ cell neoplasia in situ: Dedifferentiation of human adult Sertoli cells in cross talk with seminoma cells in vitro. Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.). 2021 Jul;23(7):731-742

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PMID: 34153645

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