J. Pathol. 249 (3) 308-318 [2019-11-00; online 2019-08-27]
Molecular subtypes of urothelial carcinoma may be divided into luminal and nonluminal tumors. Nonluminal tumors are composed of cases with basal/squamous-like or small cell/neuroendocrine features, with a consensus on the molecular characteristics of the respective subtype. In contrast, luminal tumors are more disparate with three to five suggested subtypes and with definitions that do not always cohere. To resolve some of these disparities we assembled a cohort of 344 luminal tumors classified as urothelial-like (Uro), with the subtypes UroA, UroAp, UroB, and UroC, or genomically unstable (GU) according to the LundTax system. Cases were systematically analyzed by immunohistochemistry using antibodies for proteins representing important biological processes or cellular states: KRT5, EGFR, and CDH3 for the integrity of a basal cell layer; CCNB1, Ki67, and FOXM1 for proliferation; FGFR3 and ERBB2 for receptor tyrosine kinase status; CCND1, CDKN2A(p16), RB1, and E2F3 for cell cycle regulation; PPARG, GATA3, and TP63 for the differentiation regulatory system; and KRT20 and UPK3 for the differentiation readout. We show that Uro tumors form one, albeit heterogenous, group characterized by FGFR3, CCND1, and RB1 expression, but low or absence of CDKN2A(p16) and ERBB2 expression. The opposite expression pattern is observed in GU cases. Furthermore, Uro tumors are distinguished from GU tumors by showing a high RB1/p16 expression ratio. Class defining characteristics were independent of pathological stage and growth pattern, and thus intrinsic. In Uro tumors, proliferation was limited to a well-defined single layer of basal-like cells in UroA tumors but occurred throughout the tumor parenchyma, independent of the basal layer, in the more progressed UroAp and UroC tumors. A similar change in proliferation topology was not observed in GU. We conclude that luminal urothelial carcinomas consist, at the molecular pathology level, of two major subtypes, the larger heterogenous Uro and the biologically distinct GU subtype. © 2019 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.