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Aberrant Wnt gene expression is involved in the development of breast cancer, but its role in other tumours is unknown. Wnts regulate cadherin function, previously shown to be more commonly deregulated in invasive bladder cancer. This study investigated whether factors upstream of cadherins were aberrantly expressed in superficial bladder cancer. The expression of one transforming (Wnt7b) and one non-transforming (Wnt5a) Wnt gene in four human bladder carcinoma cell lines, and in normal human bladder tissues (n = 8) and bladder cancers (n = 48) were analysed by ribonuclease protection analysis. All cell lines expressed an approximately equal level of Wnt7b mRNA. Wnt5a and Wnt7b mRNAs were both expressed in normal bladder tissues and bladder tumours. The median expression of Wnt7b was fourfold higher in superficial tumours (n = 29) than in normal tissues (n = 8, P = 0.002) and five fold higher than in invasive tumours (n = 17, P = 0.003). There was no significant difference between normal tissues and invasive tumours (P = 0.3). The expression of Wnt5a did not vary significantly between normal tissues and superficial tumours (P = 0.4), normal tissues and invasive tumours (P = 0.3) or superficial tumours and invasive tumours (P = 0.2). The differential expression of Wnt7b suggests a role in the early events of superficial bladder tumorigenesis involving cell adhesion and provides further evidence of different pathways of evolution of superficial and invasive cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





319 - 324


Carcinoma, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Glycoproteins, Humans, Prognosis, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, RNA, Messenger, RNA, Neoplasm, Recurrence, Survival Analysis, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Urinary Bladder, Urinary Bladder Neoplasms, Wnt Proteins, Wnt-5a Protein