Integrated genomic analysis reveals aberrations in WNT signaling in germ cell tumors of childhood and adolescence

Nat Commun. 2023 May 6;14(1):2636. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-38378-9.


Germ cell tumors (GCTs) are neoplasms of the testis, ovary and extragonadal sites that occur in infants, children, adolescents and adults. Post-pubertal (type II) malignant GCTs may present as seminoma, non-seminoma or mixed histologies. In contrast, pre-pubertal (type I) GCTs are limited to (benign) teratoma and (malignant) yolk sac tumor (YST). Epidemiologic and molecular data have shown that pre- and post-pubertal GCTs arise by distinct mechanisms. Dedicated studies of the genomic landscape of type I and II GCT in children and adolescents are lacking. Here we present an integrated genomic analysis of extracranial GCTs across the age spectrum from 0-24 years. Activation of the WNT pathway by somatic mutation, copy-number alteration, and differential promoter methylation is a prominent feature of GCTs in children, adolescents and young adults, and is associated with poor clinical outcomes. Significantly, we find that small molecule WNT inhibitors can suppress GCT cells both in vitro and in vivo. These results highlight the importance of WNT pathway signaling in GCTs across all ages and provide a foundation for future efforts to develop targeted therapies for these cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal* / genetics
  • Teratoma* / pathology
  • Testicular Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Testicular Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics
  • Young Adult