Germ Cell Tumors (GCTs) occur in infants, children, and young adults. Testicular GCT is the most common cancer of young men, but the molecular pathogenesis of these tumors is largely unknown.
We developed the first zebrafish model of GCT, and showed that GCTs can arise in zebrafish due to defects in the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling pathway (Neumann et al., 2011). Extending our work from the fish model to human tumors, we showed that the BMP pathway is misregulated in human GCTs as well (Fustino et al., 2011).
These studies identified BMP signaling as a key node in GCT differentiation and a promising target for novel therapies. In collaboration with the Children’s Oncology Group, we are continuing to investigate the origins of childhood GCTs through high-resolution genomic analysis.