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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Tumor loci and their interactions on mouse chromosome 19 that contribute to testicular germ cell tumors

Rui Zhu1 and Angabin Matin2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Systems Medicine and Bioengineering, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, Texas 77030, USA

2 Department of Genetics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA

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BMC Genetics 2014, 15:65  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-15-65

Published: 30 May 2014



Complex genetic factors underlie testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) development. One experimental approach to dissect the genetics of TGCT predisposition is to use chromosome substitution strains, such as the 129.MOLF-Chr 19 (M19). M19 carries chromosome (Chr) 19 from the MOLF whereas all other chromosomes are from the 129 strain. 71% of M19 males develop TGCTs in contrast to 5% in 129 strain. To identify and map tumor loci from M19 we generated congenic strains harboring MOLF chromosome 19 segments on 129 strain background and monitored their TGCT incidence.


We found 3 congenic strains that each harbored tumor promoting loci that had high (14%-32%) whereas 2 other congenics had low (4%) TGCT incidences. To determine how multiple loci influence TGCT development, we created double and triple congenic strains. We found additive interactions were predominant when 2 loci were combined in double congenic strains. Surprisingly, we found an example where 2 loci, both which do not contribute significantly to TGCT, when combined in a double congenic strain resulted in greater than expected TGCT incidence (positive interaction). In an opposite example, when 2 loci with high TGCT incidences were combined, males of the double congenic showed lower than expected TGCT incidence (negative interaction). For the triple congenic strain, depending on the analysis, the overall TGCT incidence could be additive or could also be due to a positive interaction of one region with others. Additionally, we identified loci that promote bilateral tumors or testicular abnormalities.


The congenic strains each with their characteristic TGCT incidences, laterality of tumors and incidence of testicular abnormalities, are useful for identification of TGCT susceptibility modifier genes that map to Chr 19 and also for studies on the genetic and environmental causes of TGCT development. TGCTs are a consequence of aberrant germ cell and testis development. By defining predisposing loci and some of the locus interactions from M19, this study further advances our understanding of the complex genetics of TGCTs, which is the most common cancer in young human males.

Congenic strain; Chromosome substitution strain; M19; Testicular germ cell tumor; Modifiers; Epistasis