Rapid identification of UCA1 as a very sensitive and specific unique marker for human bladder carcinoma

Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Aug 15;12(16):4851-8. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-0134.


Purpose: The most common genitourinary malignancy in China is bladder transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). Early diagnosis of new and recurrent bladder cancers, followed by timely treatment, will help decrease mortality. There are currently no satisfactory markers for bladder cancer available in clinics. Better diagnostic methods are highly demanded.

Experimental design: In this research, we have used comprehensive expressed sequence tag analysis, serial analysis of gene expression, and microarray analysis and quickly discovered a candidate marker, urothelial carcinoma associated 1 (UCA1). The UCA1 gene was characterized and its performance as a urine marker was analyzed by reverse transcription-PCR with urine sediments. A total of 212 individuals were included in this study, 94 having bladder cancers, 33 ureter/pelvic cancers, and 85 normal and other urinary tract disease controls.

Results: UCA1 was identified as a novel noncoding RNA gene dramatically up-regulated in TCC and it is the most TCC-specific gene yet identified. The full-length cDNA was 1,439 bp, and sequence analysis showed that it belonged to the human endogenous retrovirus H family. Clinical tests showed that UCA1 assay was highly specific (91.8%, 78 of 85) and very sensitive (80.9%, 76 of 94) in the diagnosis of bladder cancer and was especially valuable for superficial G2-G3 patients (sensitivity 91.1%, 41 of 45). It showed excellent differential diagnostic performance in various urinary tract diseases without TCC.

Conclusions: UCA1 is a very sensitive and specific unique marker for bladder cancer. It could have important implications in postoperative noninvasive follow-up. This research also highlights a shortcut to new cancer diagnostic assays through integration of in silico isolation methods with translational clinical tests based on RNA detection protocols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / urine
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / urine
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • RNA, Untranslated / urine
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / urine


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Genetic Markers
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • UCA1 RNA, human