Enhanced expression of metallothionein isoform 3 protein in tumor heterotransplants derived from As+3- and Cd+2 -transformed human urothelial cells

Xu Dong Zhou, Mary Ann Sens, Scott H. Garrett, Seema Somji, Seongmi Park, Volkan Gurel, Donald A. Sens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This laboratory has proposed that the third isoform of the metallothionein gene family (MT-3) might be a biomarker for the development of human bladder cancer. Immunohistochemical staining of MT-3 on archival diagnostic specimens showed that only 2 of 63 (3.17%) benign bladder specimens had even weak reactivity for the MT-3 protein. In contrast, 103 of 107 (96.26%) high-grade urothelial cancers and 17 of 17 (100%) specimens of carcinoma in situ stained positive for the MT-3 protein. For low-grade bladder cancer it was shown that 30 of 48 specimens (62.5%) expressed the MT-3 protein. Using a cell culture model (UROtsa), it was demonstrated that expression of the MT-3 protein was not required for malignant transformation of urothelial cells by either Cd+2 or As+3. In contrast, it was shown that the cells transformed by Cd+2 and As+3 that did not express the MT-3 gene in cell culture, gained expression of MT-3 when grown as heterotransplants in nude mice. The gain in MT-3 expression when cells were grown as heterotransplants was also shown to occur for the MCF-7, T-47D, Hs 578t, MDA-MB-231 breast cancer, and the PC-3 prostate cancer cell lines. An analysis of MT-3 mRNA and protein expression suggested that a posttranscriptional mechanism was responsible for accumulation of the MT-3 protein. The results provide strong evidence that MT-3 could be a biomarker for the development of high-grade bladder cancer and that the expression of the MT-3 gene is not involved in the in vitro malignant transformation of UROtsa cells by Cd+2 and As+3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-330
Number of pages9
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Arsenic
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cadmium
  • Metallothionein, biomarker
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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