Aims: To determine the expression of Mcl-1 in testicular germ cell tumours in order to clarify the role of this anti-apoptotic factor in these tumours. Various members of the Bcl-2 family have been implicated in the apoptotic mechanisms regulating germ cell apoptosis. Mcl-1 is an anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member and has recently been reported to be related to the progression of malignancy; however, the involvement of Mcl-1 in the development of germ cell tumours is still unknown. Methods and results: Mcl-1 expression in testicular germ cell tumours was investigated by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). By immunohistochemistry, overexpression of Mcl-1 was present in all germ cell tumours that were studied, including embryonal carcinoma and yolk sac tumour, as well as choriocarcinoma and teratoma. In teratomas, Mcl-1 was widely distributed in the epithelial, myogenic, neural and mesenchymal components. RT-PCR analysis after microdissection revealed high levels of Mcl-1 mRNA in all tumour variants compared with non-neoplastic germ cells. Conclusion: Overexpression of anti-apoptotic Mcl-1 may function to enhance the viability of testicular germ cells, thereby leading to tumorigenesis.
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