Erasure of methylation imprint at the promoter and CTCF-binding site upstream of H19 in human testicular germ cell tumors of adolescents indicate their fetal germ cell origin

Oncogene. 2006 Jun 1;25(23):3225-36. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209362. Epub 2006 Jan 23.


Genome-wide epigenetic modification plays a crucial role in regulating genome functions at critical stages of development. In particular, DNA methylation is known to be reprogrammed on a genome-wide level in germ cells and in preimplantation embryos, although it is relatively stable in somatic cells. In this reprogramming process, the genome becomes demethylated, and methylated de novo during later stages of development. Reprogramming of DNA methylation in male germ cells has not been fully investigated. Testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) possess a pluripotential nature and display protean histology from germ cells to embryonal and somatic cell differentiation. These properties make TGCT a unique model for studying germ cell development and gametogenesis in respect of DNA reprogramming. In order to obtain an insight into the epigenetic dynamics of TGCTs, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of differential methylated regions (DMRs) on H19 and IGF2 in TGCTs compared with testicular malignant lymphomas. In the present study, we show that methylation imprint at the promoter and CTCF-binding site upstream of H19 was completely erased in both seiminomatous and non-seminomatous TGCTs, whereas differential methylation was observed in testicular lymphomas. The erasure of methylation imprint was also observed in TGCTs with malignant transformation. We found biallelic unmethylation at the promoter and the CTCF-binding site upstream of H19 is required, but not sufficient for the biallelic expression of H19 in TGCTs. These data suggest that factors other than methylation contribute to transcriptional regulation of imprinted genes in TGCTs. The present data have shown that TGCTs carry distinctive epigenetic profiles at the core-imprinting domain of H19/IGF2 from other neoplasms of somatic cell origin. The data also suggest that both seminomatous and non-seminomatous TGCTs carry methylation profiles similar to fetal germ cells, but not adult germ cells, indicating the origin of TGCTs as fetal germ cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fetus
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / genetics
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / metabolism


  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • CTCF protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • H19 long non-coding RNA
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Repressor Proteins