Cancer/testis antigens and gametogenesis: A review and "brain-storming" session

Martins Kalejs, Jekaterina Erenpreisa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Genes expressed both in normal testis and in malignancies (Cancer/ Testis associated genes - CTA) have become the most extensively studied antigen group in the field of tumour immunology. Despite this, many fundamentally important questions remain unanswered: what is the connection between germ-cell specific genes and tumours? Is the expression of these genes yet another proof for the importance of genome destabilisation in the process of tumorigenesis?, or maybe activation of these genes is not quite random but instead related to some programme giving tumours a survival advantage? This review collates most of the recent information available about CTAs expression, function, and regulation. The data suggests a programme related to ontogenesis, mostly to gametogenesis. In the "brain-storming" part, facts in conflict with the hypothesis of random CTA gene activation are discussed. We propose a programme borrowed from organisms phylogenetically much older than humans, which existed before the differentiation of sexes. It is a programme that has served as a life cycle with prominent ploidy changes, and from which, as we know, the germ-cell ploidy cycle - meiosis - has evolved. Further work may show whether this hypothesis can lead to a novel antitumour strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Cell International
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • CTA genes
  • Gametogenesis
  • Polyploidy

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine
  • 3.1 Basic medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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