Muscle invasive urothelial carcinomas are divided into various molecular subtypes with basal and luminal subtypes being the prominent ones. The basal muscle-invasive urothelial carcinomas are generally more aggressive at presentation and significantly enriched with squamous features. Our laboratory has developed an in-vitro model of urothelial cancer by transforming the immortalized cell line UROtsa with arsenite (As3+) and cadmium (Cd2+). In this study, we characterized the tumors formed by these transformed cell lines as more basal-like based on their gene expression patterns with increased expression of KRT1, KRT5, KRT6, KRT14, KRT16, KRT17 and CD44. In addition, histological examination of these tumor transplants showed squamous features enriched in basal muscle invasive urothelial carcinomas. The expression of these genes increased in the transformed cell lines as well as in the urospheres, which are putative cancer initiating cells/stem cells derived from the cell lines. There was also increased expression of these genes in the urospheres derived from the parent UROtsa cell line. Thus, our data shows that the As3+ and Cd2+-transformed cell lines and their derived tumor transplants have gene expression profiles similar to the basal subtype of muscle invasive bladder carcinomas with tumors having enriched squamous features. The increased expression of basal markers in the urospheres suggests that stem cells may be involved in the development of squamous differentiation seen in some of the muscle invasive bladder carcinomas.
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Hoggarth, Zachary E.; Osowski, Danyelle B.; Freeberg, Brooke A.; Garrett, Scott H.; Sens, Mary Ann; Zhou, Xudong; Zhang, Ke K.; and Somji, Seema, "The Urothelial Cell Line UROtsa Transformed by Arsenite and Cadmium Display Basal Characteristics Associated with Muscle Invasive Urothelial Cancers" (2018). Pathology Faculty Publications. 1.