Aberrant fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling in bladder and other cancers


✉ E-mail: elizabeth.williams@med.monash.edu.au


Abstract Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are potent mitogens, morphogens, and inducers of angiogenesis, and FGF signaling governs the genesis of diverse tissues and organs from the earliest stages. With such fundamental embryonic and homeostatic roles, it follows that aberrant FGF signaling underlies a variety of diseases. Pathological modifications to FGF expression are known to cause salivary gland aplasia and autosomal dominant hypophosphatemic rickets, while mutations in FGF receptors (FGFRs) result in a range of skeletal dysplasias. Anomalous FGF signaling is also associated with cancer development and progression. Examples include the overexpression of FGF2 and FGF6 in prostate cancer, and FGF8 overexpression in breast and prostate cancers. Alterations in FGF signaling regulators also impact tumorigenesis, which is exemplified by the down-regulation of Sprouty 1, a negative regulator of FGF signaling, in prostate cancer. In addition, several FGFRs are mutated in human cancers (including FGFR2 in gastric cancer and FGFR3 in bladder cancer). We recently identified intriguing alterations in the FGF pathway in a novel model of bladder carcinoma that consists of a parental cell line (TSU-Pr1/T24) and two sublines with increasing metastatic potential (TSU-Pr1-B1 and TSU-Pr1-B2), which were derived successively through in vivo cycling. It was found that the increasingly metastatic sublines (TSU-Pr1-B1 and TSU-Pr1-B2) had undergone a mesenchymal to epithelial transition. FGFR2IIIc expression, which is normally expressed in mesenchymal cells, was increased in the epithelial-like TSU-Pr1-B1 and TSU-Pr1-B2 sublines and FGFR2 knock-down was associated with the reversion of cells from an epithelial to a mesenchymal phenotype. These observations suggest that modified FGF pathway signaling should be considered when studying other cancer types.