E2F3 is located in the 6p22 bladder amplicon and encodes a transcription factor important for cell cycle regulation and DNA replication. To further investigate the role of E2F3 in bladder cancer, a tissue microarray containing samples from 2317 bladder tumors was used for gene copy number and expression analysis by means of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and immunohistochemistry (IHC). E2F3 amplification was strongly associated with invasive tumor phenotype and high tumor grade (P < 0.0001 each). None of 272 pTaG1/G2 tumors, but 35 of 311 pT1-4 carcinomas (11.3%), had E2F3 amplification. A high E2F3 expression level was associated with high grade, advanced stage, and E2F3 gene amplification (P < 0.0001 each). To evaluate whether E2F3 expression correlates with tumor proliferation, the Ki67 labeling index (LI) was analysed for each tumor. There was a strong association between a high Ki67 LI and E2F3 expression (P < 0.0001), which was independent of grade and stage. We conclude that E2F3 is frequently amplified and overexpressed in invasively growing bladder cancer (stage pT1-4). E2F3 expression appears to provide a growth advantage to tumor cells by activating cell proliferation in a subset of bladder tumors.
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