Testicular germ cell tumour (TGCT) is the most common cancer in young men in large parts of the world, but the aetiology is mainly unknown. Genome-wide association studies have so far identified about 50 susceptibility loci associated with TGCT, including SPRY4. SPRY4 has shown tumour suppressor activity in several cancer cells, such as lung and prostate, while it was found to act as an oncogene in ovarian cancer. An intronic region within the SPRY4 gene produces a long non-coding RNA, SPRY4-IT1, which has been reported to act as an oncogene in melanoma, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer, and as a tumour suppressor in lung cancer. The roles of SPRY4 and SPRY4-IT1 in TGCT development are yet unknown. We found higher expression levels of SPRY4, both mRNA and protein, and of SPRY4-IT1 in human TGCT than in normal adult testis. Small-interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated transient knockdown of SPRY4 and SPRY4-IT1 in two TGCT cell lines 833 K and NT2-D1 resulted in decreased cell growth, migration, and invasion. Knockdown of SPRY4 and SPRY4-IT1 also led to a significant reduction in the phosphorylation of Akt. Our findings indicate that SPRY4 and SPRY4-IT1 may act as oncogenes in TGCTs via activation of the PI3K / Akt signalling pathway.
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