Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is essential for somatic hypermutation (SHM) and class switch recombination (CSR) of immunoglobulin genes in antigen-dependent B-cell maturation. SHM is not restricted to immunoglobulin gene loci, raising the possibility of a function for AID in other cell types. In this study, it is shown that AID is expressed in spermatocytes in the human testis. AID was mostly cytoplasmic but nuclear AID was also observed in a proportion of cells, in keeping with the DNA deamination model of AID function. Intratubular germ cell neoplasia unclassified (IGCNU), the precursor lesion of testicular cancers, was AID-negative. Seminomas also lacked AID expression. Nuclear and cytoplasmic AID expression was observed in three of 32 mixed non-seminomatous germ cell tumours. The results provide evidence for a physiological role for AID outside the immune system. AID expression in spermatocytes points to a role in meiosis. It remains uncertain whether AID may also contribute to the genetic aberrations characteristically found in testicular germ cell tumours. The consistent absence of detectable AID expression in atypical spermatogonia of IGCNU and its rare expression in germ cell tumours suggest that continued expression of AID is not involved in the pathogenesis of germ cell tumours.
Copyright (c) 2006 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.