Object. Of the intracranial germ cell tumors (IGCTs), 10% of germinomas and most nongerminomatous tumors remain refractory to multimodality therapy. The authors investigated the mutation of c-kit and the expression of its product KIT in IGCTs to identify tumors susceptible to imatinib mesylate, a synthetic agent targeting KIT. Methods. The authors investigated 26 IGCTs, including 13 germinomas, five mixed germ cell tumors (MGCTs), four immature teratomas (ITs), and two each of yolk sac tumors and choriocarcinomas. These tumors were examined for the expression of KIT and CD34 by immunohistochemical analysis, and for mutations in exons 2, 8 to 11, 13, and 17 of c-kit. Strong KIT expression was found in the cell membrane of germinomas (100%) and germinomatous cells of MGCTs (80%), as well as in the cytoplasm of epithelial and smooth-muscle cells of ITs. The membranous expression of CD34 was found in the nongerminomatous tumor cells and the chondrocytes of MGCTs (60%), ITs (100%), and a choriocarcinoma (50%), but not in germinomas and germinomatous cells. A total of five missense mutations distributed in exons 2, 11, 13, and 17 of c-kit were detected in three (23%) of the 13 germinomas. The novel mutations E73K, T96M (both in exon 2), and A636V (in exon 13) were detected in a single tumor. The presence or type of c-kit mutation was not correlated with patient prognosis. Conclusions. Immunohistochemical analysis of KIT expression is useful for the diagnosis of germinoma. This study may help in clarifying the pathogenesis of IGCTs and in identifying tumors susceptible to drugs targeting KIT.
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