The histologic heterogeneity of human Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer (MIBC) is one of the main contributing factors to poor treatment outcomes. Recent reports on MIBC histological variants have highlighted increased levels of transcription factors (TF) associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) and epigenetic regulation in the sarcomatoid histology variant of MIBC. Dogs with spontaneously developing MIBC have been shown to display similar histological and molecular features, in addition to closely mimicking the clinical behavior of human MIBC. Here, we add to previously reported data on histological variants in canine MIBC by evaluating 21 tumor biopsies for variant histology and performing bulk RNAseq analyses on 3 organoid cell lines derived from one sarcomatoid subvariant and two conventional urothelial carcinoma (UC). MIBC biopsies from 21 dogs were reviewed for variant histology by a human urologic pathologist. Organoids derived from the urine of canine MIBC patients were cultured, preserved in RNA later, and sequenced for mRNA expression to identify TF associated with sarcomatoid variants versus conventional UC. All canine MIBC biopsies were classified as invasive, high-grade UC. Histologic variants were identified as glandular differentiation in 7/21, sarcomatoid differentiation in 3/21, squamous differentiation in 3/21, micropapillary carcinoma in 1/21 MIBC samples and small nested variants in 1/21 samples; with the rest of the tumors classified as conventional UC. Raw RNAseq analyses revealed no clear clustering of expression profiles between the three organoid cell lines, indicating distinct RNA expression profiles between the sarcomatoid variants and conventional UC of canine MIBC. To evaluate differences in the expression of TF targets between the organoid cell lines, pathway analyses and VIPER algorithms were used. Organoids derived from sarcomatoid variant UC showed increased expression of Snail familiy transcription repressor 1 (SNAI1) along with decreased expression of cadherin 1 (CDH1), indicating a signature of EMT, similar to that previously identified in human MIBC organoids with sarcomatoid variant histology. Canine MIBC organoids derived from conventional UC histology samples showed a TF profile associated with proliferation, metastasis, and progression, such as increased Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1), E2F transcription factor 3 (E2F3), and centromere protein F (CENPF), as previously described in humans with high grade, invasive UC. In conclusion, the frequency of some histologic variants in canine MIBC, such as sarcomatoid UC, appear to be higher than reported in human patients. TF analyses of canine MIBC-derived organoid cell lines showed evidence of EMT, similar to the sarcomatoid variants of MIBC in humans. Organoids derived from canine MIBC could potentially serve as a valuable model for evaluating the efficacy of novel treatment modalities for the rare histologic variants of UC.

Citation Format: Karin Allenspach, Mohamed Elbadawy, Hannah Nocholson, Christopher Zdyrski, John Cheville, Eugene Douglass, Elizabeth W. Howerth, Lilian Oliveira, Jonathan P. Mochel. Sarcomatoid Histological Variants of Canine Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer: Transcription Factor Activation Highlights Pathways of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transformation Similar to Humans [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Bladder Cancer: Transforming the Field; 2024 May 17-20; Charlotte, NC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Clin Cancer Res 2024;30(10_Suppl):Abstract nr PR002.