Genes differentially expressed by tumor cells represent promising drug targets for anti-cancer therapy. Such candidate genes need to be validated in appropriate animal models. This study examined the suitability of rodent models of bladder cancer in B6D2F1 mice and Fischer-344 rats to model clinical bladder cancer specimens in humans. Using a global gene expression approach cross-species analysis showed that 13-34% of total genes in the genome were differentially expressed between tumor and normal tissues in each of five datasets from humans, rats, and mice. About 20% of these differentially expressed genes overlapped among species, corresponding to 2.6 to 4.8% of total genes in the genome. Several genes were consistently dysregulated in bladder tumors in both humans and rodents. Notably, CNN1, MYL9, PDLIM3, ITIH5, MYH11, PCP4 and FM05 were found to commonly down-regulated; while T0P2A, CCNB2, KIF20A and RRM2 were up-regulated. These genes are likely to have conserved functions contributing to bladder carcinogenesis. Gene set enrichment analysis detected a number of molecular pathways commonly activated in both humans and rodent bladder cancer. These pathways affect the cell cycle, HIF-1 and MYC expression, and regulation of apoptosis. We also compared expression changes at mRNA and protein levels in the rat model and identified several genes/proteins exhibiting concordant changes in bladder tumors, including ANXA1, ANXA2, CA2, KRT14, LDHA, LGALS4, SERPINA1, KRT18 and LDHB. In general, rodent models of bladder cancer represent the clinical disease to an extent that will allow successful mining of target genes and permit studies on the molecular mechanisms of bladder carcinogenesis.
Keywords: Human bladder cancer; and cross-species comparison; gene expression; proteomics; rodent models.