Understanding how malignancies arise within normal tissues requires identification of the cancer cell of origin and knowledge of the cellular and tissue dynamics of tumour progression. Here we examine bladder cancer in a chemical carcinogenesis model that mimics muscle-invasive human bladder cancer. With no prior bias regarding genetic pathways or cell types, we prospectively mark or ablate cells to show that muscle-invasive bladder carcinomas arise exclusively from Sonic hedgehog (Shh)-expressing stem cells in basal urothelium. These carcinomas arise clonally from a single cell whose progeny aggressively colonize a major portion of the urothelium to generate a lesion with histological features identical to human carcinoma in situ. Shh-expressing basal cells within this precursor lesion become tumour-initiating cells, although Shh expression is lost in subsequent carcinomas. We thus find that invasive carcinoma is initiated from basal urothelial stem cells but that tumour cell phenotype can diverge significantly from that of the cancer cell of origin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology