Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

David J. McConkey

Committee Member

Michelle C. Barton

Committee Member

Sendurai Mani

Committee Member

Gary E. Gallick

Committee Member

Elsa R. Flores


p63, a p53 family member, is a transcription factor that has complex roles in cancer. This study focuses on the role of the ∆Np63α isoform in bladder cancer (BC). Epithelial – mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a physiological process that plays an important part in metastasis and drug resistance. At the molecular level, EMT is characterized by the loss of the epithelial marker E-cadherin, and the acquisition of the transcriptional repressors of E-cadherin (ZEB1, ZEB2, TWIST, SNAI1 and SNAI2). Recent publications highlight the role of microRNAs belonging to the miR-200 family and miR-205 in preventing EMT through suppression of ZEB1 and ZEB2. p53, the homologue of p63, is implicated in regulating EMT by modulating the expression of miR-200c; however, the mechanisms underlying miR-205 control remain unclear. Here we show that ∆Np63α regulates the transcription of miR-205 and controls EMT in human BC cells. We observed a strong correlation between the expression of ∆Np63α, miR-205 and E-cadherin in a panel of BC cell lines (n=28) and also in bladder primary tumors from a cohort of patients (n=98). A remarkably inverse correlation is observed between ∆Np63α and ZEB1/2 in cell lines. Stable knockdown (KD) ∆Np63α in UC6, an “epithelial” BC cell line, decreased the expression of miR-205 and induced ZEB1/2 expression, the effects that were reversed by expression of exogenous miR-205. Moreover, overexpressing ∆Np63α in UC3, a “messenchymal” BC cell line, brought about opposite results, an increase in miR-205 expression and a reduction in ZEB1/2 expression. Modulation of ∆Np63α expression resulted in a parallel change in the expression of miR-205 and miR-205 “host” gene (miR-205HG). Nuclear run-on and chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated that ∆Np63α regulates the transcription of miR-205 through controlling the recruitment of RNA Polymerase II to the promoter of miR-205HG. Interestingly, high miR-205 expression correlated with poor clinical outcome in BC patients, consistent with our recent publication highlighting the enrichment of ∆Np63 in a lethal subset of muscle invasive BC.

In summary, our data present the important roles of ∆Np63α in preventing EMT mediated by miR-205. Our study also identifies miR-205 as a potential molecular marker to predict clinical outcome in BC patients.


p63, EMT, miR-205, transcription, bladder cancer