RNA Expression Profiling of Lymphoepithelioma-Like Carcinoma of the Bladder Reveals a Basal-Like Molecular Subtype

Ujjawal Manocha, Jordan Kardos, Sara Selitsky, Mi Zhou, Steven M. Johnson, Cori Breslauer, Jonathan I. Epstein, William Y. Kim, Sara E. Wobker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the bladder (LELC-B) is a rare subtype of urothelial carcinoma consisting of undifferentiated epithelial cells within a dense inflammatory cell infiltrate. We set out to molecularly characterize LELC-B through RNA expression profiling as well as immunohistochemistry (IHC) to understand its underlying biology. Sixteen cases of LELC-B were identified at Johns Hopkins University. RNA sequencing was performed on 14 cases. IHC staining for programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) and mismatch repair proteins MutL homolog 1 (MLH1), MutS homolog 2 (MSH2), MSH6, and PMS1 homolog, mismatch repair system component 2 (PMS2) was performed. Transcriptomic profiling of LELC-B showed that they are enriched in a basal-like phenotype, with 12 of 14 LELC-B cases correlating to the basal centroid of the bladder cancer analysis of subtypes by gene expression 47 (BASE47) predictive analysis of microarrays (PAM) classifier. Gene signature analysis confirmed the lymphocyte infiltration profile consistent with the histomorphology. LELC-B lacked features to explain the robust lymphocytic infiltrate, such as loss of mismatch repair protein expression or expression of Epstein-Barr virus transcripts. Nonetheless, PD-L1 IHC was positive in 93% of LELC cases. Our study demonstrates that LELC-B tumors are enriched in a basal-like molecular subtype and share a high level of immune infiltration and PD-L1 expression, similar to basal tumors. The basal-like phenotype is consistent with the known sensitivity of LELC-B to chemotherapy and suggests that immune checkpoint therapy should be explored in this rare disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-144
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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