Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Gene profiling suggests a common evolution of bladder cancer subtypes

Donna E Hansel1*, Zhongfa Zhang2, David Petillo2 and Bin T Teh34

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0612, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

2 Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

3 National Cancer Centre of Singapore-VARI, Singapore, Singapore

4 Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore, Singapore

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BMC Medical Genomics 2013, 6:42  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-6-42

Published: 17 October 2013

Abstract

Background

Bladder cancer exists as several distinct subtypes, including urothelial carcinoma (UCa), squamous cell carcinoma (SCCa), adenocarcinoma and small cell carcinoma. These entities, despite showing distinct morphology and clinical behavior, arise from the urothelial lining and are often accompanied by similar precursor/in situ findings. The relationship between these subtypes has not been explored in detail.

Methods

We compared gene expression analysis of the two most common subtypes of bladder cancer, UCa (n = 10) and SCCa (n = 9), with an additional comparison to normal urothelium from non-cancer patients (n = 8) using Affymetrix GeneChip Human genome arrays (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA). The results were stratified by supervised and unsupervised clustering analysis, as well as by overall fold change in gene expression.

Results

When compared to normal urothelium, UCa showed differential expression of 155 genes using a 5-fold cut-off. Examples of differentially regulated genes included topoisomerases, cancer-related transcription factors and cell cycle mediators. A second comparison of normal urothelium to SCCa showed differential expression of 503 genes, many of which were related to squamous-specific morphology (desmosomal complex, intermediate filaments present within squamous epithelium, squamous cornifying proteins, and molecules upregulated in squamous carcinomas from other anatomic sites). When compared, 137 genes were commonly dysregulated in both UCa and SCCa as compared to normal urothelium. All dysregulated genes in UCa were shared in common with SCCa, with the exception of only 18 genes. Supervised clustering analysis yielded correct classification of lesions in 26/27 (96%) of cases and unsupervised clustering analysis yielded correct classification in 25/27 (92.6%) of cases.

Conclusions

The results from this analysis suggest that bladder SCCa shares a significant number of gene expression changes with conventional UCa, but also demonstrates an additional set of alterations that is unique to this entity that defines the squamous phenotype. The similarity in deregulated gene products suggests that SCCa may be a much more closely related entity at the molecular level to conventional UCa than previously hypothesized.

Keywords:
Gene expression profiling; Bladder cancer; Urothelial; Squamous; Subtype