TCF21 promotes luminal-like differentiation and suppresses metastasis in bladder cancer

Sharada Mokkapati, Sima P. Porten, Vikram M. Narayan, Amy H. Lim, Isuru S. Jayaratna, Beat Roth, Beat Roth, Tiewei Cheng, Neema Navai, Matthew Wszolek, Jonathan Melquist, Ganiraju Manyam, Woonyoung Choi, Bradley Broom, Shanna Pretzsch, Bogdan Czerniak, David J. McConkey, Colin P.N. Dinney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is known regarding the subclone evolution process in advanced bladder cancer, particularly with respect to the genomic alterations that lead to the development of metastatic lesions. In this project, we identify gene expression signatures associated with metastatic bladder cancer through mRNA expression profiling of RNA isolated from 33 primary bladder cancer and corresponding lymph node (LN) metastasis samples. Gene expression profiling (GEP) was performed on RNA isolated using the Illumina DASL platform. We identified the developmental transcription factor TCF21 as being significantly higher in primary bladder cancer compared with LN metastasis samples. To elucidate its function in bladder cancer, loss-and gain-of-function experiments were conducted in bladder cancer cell lines with high and low expression of TCF21, respectively. We also performed GEP in bladder cancer cell lines following TCF21 overexpression. We identified 2,390 genes differentially expressed in primary bladder cancer and corresponding LN metastasis pairs at an FDR cutoff of 0.1 and a fold change of 1. Among those significantly altered, expression of TCF21 was higher in the primary tumor compared with LN metastasis. We validated this finding with qPCR and IHC on patient samples. Moreover, TCF21 expression was higher in luminal cell lines and knockdown of TCF21 increased invasion, tumor cell dissemination, and metastasis. In contrast, overexpression of TCF21 in highly metastatic basal bladder cancer cell lines decreased their invasive and metastatic potential. Implications: TCF21 is differentially overexpressed in primary bladder cancer compared with matched LN metastasis, with in vitro and in vivo studies demonstrating a metastasis suppressor function of this transcription factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-821
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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