Purpose: We hypothesized that over expression of c-myc and cyclin D1 genes is transcriptionally activated by beta-catenin mutation independent of gene amplification in bladder cancer. To test this hypothesis we investigated the relationship of beta-catenin mutation to c-myc and cyclin D1 mRNA with special reference to the changes in copy number of the 2 genes.
Materials and methods: Genomic DNA and total RNA were extracted from 59 bladder cancer specimens and from 31 histologically normal specimens of bladder mucosa. We performed beta-catenin deletion screening by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers spanning exons 3 (including the glycogen synthase kinase-3beta consensus motif), 5 and 6. Mutational changes in beta-catenin in exons 3, 5 and 6 were detected by each PCR-single strand conformational polymorphism analysis followed by direct DNA sequencing. mRNA expression and copy numbers of c-myc and cyclin D1 were determined by semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR and competitive genomic PCR.
Results: Missense mutations of beta-catenin found in grade 3 bladder cancer were involved in the consensus motif of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta in exon 3. These cancers showed strong intracellular accumulation of beta-catenin and intense expression of c-myc and cyclin D1 mRNA compared with samples lacking the beta-catenin mutation. When grade 3 cancers were compared, expression levels of c-myc and cyclin D1 mRNA were still higher in those with versus without the beta-catenin mutation. In bladder cancers with beta-catenin mutations copy numbers of the c-myc and cyclin D1 genes did not amplify.
Conclusions: Bladder cancer harboring a beta-catenin mutation may represent aggressive biological behavior with enhanced proliferating activity. These findings are important for understanding the role of beta-catenin mutation in the pathogenesis of bladder cancer.