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Hypoxia-inducible genes have been linked to the aggressive phenotype of cancer. However, nearly all work on hypoxia-regulated genes has been conducted in vitro on cell lines. We investigated the hypoxia transcriptome in primary human bladder cancer using cDNA microarrays to compare genes induced by hypoxia in vitro in bladder cancer cell line EJ28 with genes upregulated in 39 bladder tumour specimens (27 superficial and 12 invasive). We correlated array mRNA fold changes with carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA IX) staining of tumours as a surrogate marker of hypoxia. Of 6000 genes, 32 were hypoxia inducible in vitro more than two-fold, five of which were novel, including lactate transporter SLC16A3 and RNAse 4. Eight of 32 hypoxia-inducible genes in vitro were also upregulated on the vivo array. Vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA was upregulated two-fold by hypoxia and 2-18-fold in 31 out of 39 tumours. Glucose transporter 1 was also upregulated on both arrays mRNA, and fold changes on the in vivo array significantly correlated with CA IX staining of tumours (P=0.008). However, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 mRNA was the most strongly differentially expressed gene in both arrays and this confirmed its upregulation in urine of bladder cancer patients (n=157, P<0.01). This study defines genes suitable for an in vivo hypoxia 'profile', shows the heterogeneity of the hypoxia response and describes new hypoxia-regulated genes.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





346 - 354


Carbonic Anhydrases, Cell Hypoxia, Cell Line, Tumor, Gene Expression, Gene Expression Profiling, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, RNA, Messenger, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Urinary Bladder Neoplasms, Urothelium