Germline inactivating mutations in Folliculin (FLCN) cause Birt–Hogg–Dubé (BHD) syndrome, a rare autosomal dominant disorder predisposing to kidney tumors. FLCN is a conserved, essential gene linked to diverse cellular processes but the mechanisms by which FLCN prevents kidney cancer remain unknown. Here we show that deleting FLCN activates TFE3, upregulating its downstream E-box genes in human renal tubular epithelial cells (RPTEC/TERT1), including RRAGD and GPNMB, without modifying mTORC1 activity. Surprisingly, deletion of FLCN or its binding partners FNIP1/FNIP2 also induces interferon response genes, but independently of interferon. Mechanistically, FLCN loss promotes STAT2 recruitment to chromatin and slows cellular proliferation. Our integrated analysis identifies STAT1/2 signaling as a novel target of FLCN in renal cells and BHD tumors. STAT1/2 activation appears to counterbalance TFE3-directed hyper-proliferation and may influence the immune response. These findings shed light on unique roles of FLCN in human renal tumorigenesis and pinpoint candidate prognostic biomarkers.
|Number of pages||71|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2021|