Children with complex urogenital anomalies often require bladder reconstruction. Gastrointestinal tissues used in bladder augmentations exhibit a greatly increased risk of malignancy, and the bladder microenvironment may play a role in this carcinogenesis. Investigating the influences of the bladder microenvironment on gastrointestinal and urothelial cell cycle checkpoint activation and DNA damage response has been limited by the lack of an appropriate well-differentiated urothelial cell line system. To meet this need, we have developed a well-differentiated conditionally immortalized urothelial cell line by isolating it from the H-2K(b)-tsA58 transgenic mouse. These cells express a thermosensitive SV40 large T antigen that can be deactivated by adjustment of cell culture conditions, allowing the cell line to regain normal control of the cell cycle. The isolated urothelial cell line demonstrates a polygonal, dome-shaped morphology, expresses cytokeratin 18, and exhibits well-developed tight junctions. Adaptation of the urothelial cell line to hyperosmolal culture conditions induces expression of both cytokeratin 20 and uroplakin II, markers of a superficial urothelial cell or "umbrella cell." This cell line can be maintained indefinitely in culture under permissive conditions but when cultured under non-permissive conditions, large T antigen expression is reduced substantially, leading to increased p53 activity and reduced cellular proliferation. This new model of urothelial cells, along with gastrointestinal cell lines previously derived from the H-2K(b)-tsA58 transgenic mouse, will be useful for studying the potential mechanisms of carcinogenesis of the augmented bladder.
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