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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2004 Apr;3(4):410-9. Epub 2004 Jan 21.

Expression of the tumor suppressor protein 14-3-3 sigma is down-regulated in invasive transitional cell carcinomas of the urinary bladder undergoing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.

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Institute of Cancer Biology, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The 14-3-3 proteins constitute a family of abundant, highly conserved and broadly expressed acidic polypeptides that are involved in the regulation of various cellular processes such as cell-cycle progression, cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. One member of this family, the 14-3-3 isoform sigma, is expressed only in epithelial cells and is frequently down-regulated in a variety of human cancers. To determine the prevalence of 14-3-3 sigma silencing in bladder cancer progression, we have studied the expression of this protein in normal urothelium and bladder transitional cell carcinomas (TCCs) of various grades and stages using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis in combination with Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. We show that the expression of 14-3-3 sigma is down-regulated in invasive TCCs, particularly in lesions that are undergoing epithelial-to-mesenchymal conversion. Altered expression of 14-3-3 sigma in invasive TCCs is not due to increased externalization of the protein nor to an aberrant proliferative potential of neoplastic cells. Furthermore, we found that impaired 14-3-3 sigma expression is not associated with increased levels of the dominant-negative transcriptional regulator Delta Np63. Down-regulation of 14-3-3 sigma was confirmed by indirect immunofluorescence using a peptide-based rabbit polyclonal antibody specific for this protein. We also show that the expression of 14-3-3 sigma is highly up-regulated in pure squamous cell carcinomas. Taken together, these results provide evidence that deregulation of 14-3-3 sigma may play a key role in bladder cancer progression, in particular in differentiation events leading to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and stratified squamous metaplasia.

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