Genetic Analysis of the APAF1 Gene in Male Germ Cell Tumors

Bala, Shashi; Oliver, Holt; Renault, Beatrice; Montgomery, Kate; Dutta, Shipra; Rao, Pulivarthi; Houldsworth, Jane; Kucherlapati, Raju; Wang, X.; Vundavalli, Murty V.

Cytogenetic and molecular analyses have shown that the chromosome band 12q22 is recurrently deleted in male germ cell tumors (GCTs), indicating the presence of a candidate tumor suppressor gene (TSG) in this region. To identify the TSG, we mapped the APAF1 gene, a proapoptotic mammalian homologue of ced-4, to chromosomal band 12q22, that suggested that this might be the candidate deleted gene in GCTs. We further localized the gene between the polymorphic markers D12S1671 and D12S1082 at 12q22 to determine the role of APAF1 in the pathogenesis of GCT, and we characterized its normal genomic structure and analyzed its alterations in GCTs. The APAF1 gene comprises 27 exons, with the coding region spanning 26. The region containing APAF1 was found to be deleted in GCT by fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis, but without evidence of coding sequence alterations. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis showed APAF1 gene expression at detectable levels in all GCT cell lines analyzed. An aberrant-sized APAF1 protein was seen in one cell line. This and 2 other cell lines carrying APAF1 deletions also exhibited defects in dATP-mediated caspase-3 activation. Caspase-3 activity was effectively restored by addition of recombinant caspase-9 and APAF1 proteins, and to a lesser extent by caspase-9 alone, but not by APAF1 alone. These data do not support a TSG role for APAF1, but defects in other components of the apoptotic pathway that may be related to 12q22 deletion cannot be ruled out.


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Pathology and Cell Biology
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February 14, 2020