Author(s): Bartkova J
D-type cyclins are proto-oncogenic components of the 'RB pathway', a G1/S regulatory mechanism centred around the retinoblastoma tumour suppressor (pRB) implicated in key cellular decisions that control cell proliferation, cell-cycle arrest, quiescence, and differentiation. This study focused on immunohistochemical and immunochemical analysis of human adult testis and 32 testicular tumours to examine the differential expression and abundance of cyclins D1, D2, and D3 in relation to cell type, proliferation, differentiation, and malignancy. In normal testis, the cell type-restricted expression patterns were dominated by high levels of cyclin D3 in quiescent Leydig cells and the lack of any D-type cyclin in the germ cells, the latter possibly representing the only example of normal mammalian cells proliferating in the absence of these cyclins. Most carcinoma-in-situ lesions appeared to gain expression of cyclin D2 but not D1 or D3, while the invasive testicular tumours showed variable positivity for cyclins D2 and D3, but rarely D1. An unexpected correlation with differentiation rather than proliferation was found particularly for cyclin D3 in teratomas, a conceptually significant observation confirmed by massive up-regulation of cyclin D3 in the human teratocarcinoma cell line NTera2/D1 induced to differentiate along the neuronal lineage. These results suggest a possible involvement of cyclin D2 in the early stages of testicular oncogenesis and the striking examples of proliferation-independent expression point to potential dual or multiple roles of the D-type cyclins, particularly of cyclin D3. These findings extend current concepts of the biology of the cyclin D subfamily, as well as of the biology and oncopathology of the human adult testis. Apart from practical implications for the assessment of proliferation and oncogenic aberrations in human tissues and tumours, this study may inspire further research into the emerging role of the cyclin D proteins in the establishment and/or maintenance of the differentiated phenotypes.