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Cancer Res. 2006 Dec 1;66(23):11271-8.

Mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition facilitates bladder cancer metastasis: role of fibroblast growth factor receptor-2.

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  • 1Bernard O'Brien Institute of Microsurgery, The University of Melbourne, St. Vincent's Hospital, Australia.


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) increases cell migration and invasion, and facilitates metastasis in multiple carcinoma types, but belies epithelial similarities between primary and secondary tumors. This study addresses the importance of mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) in the formation of clinically significant metastasis. The previously described bladder carcinoma TSU-Pr1 (T24) progression series of cell lines selected in vivo for increasing metastatic ability following systemic seeding was used in this study. It was found that the more metastatic sublines had acquired epithelial characteristics. Epithelial and mesenchymal phenotypes were confirmed in the TSU-Pr1 series by cytoskeletal and morphologic analysis, and by performance in a panel of in vitro assays. Metastatic ability was examined following inoculation at various sites. Epithelial characteristics associated with dramatically increased bone and soft tissue colonization after intracardiac or intratibial injection. In contrast, the more epithelial sublines showed decreased lung metastases following orthotopic inoculation, supporting the concept that EMT is important for the escape of tumor cells from the primary tumor. We confirmed the overexpression of the IIIc subtype of multiple fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFR) through the TSU-Pr1 series, and targeted abrogation of FGFR2IIIc reversed the MET and associated functionality in this system and increased survival following in vivo inoculation in severe combined immunodeficient mice. This model is the first to specifically model steps of the latter part of the metastatic cascade in isogenic cell lines, and confirms the suspected role of MET in secondary tumor growth.

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