FLCN, a novel autophagy component, interacts with GABARAP and is regulated by ULK1 phosphorylation.
ABSTRACT: Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is a rare autosomal dominant condition caused by mutations in the FLCN gene and characterized by benign hair follicle tumors, pneumothorax, and renal cancer. Folliculin (FLCN), the protein product of the FLCN gene, is a poorly characterized tumor suppressor protein, currently linked to multiple cellular pathways. Autophagy maintains cellular homeostasis by removing damaged organelles and macromolecules. Although the autophagy kinase ULK1 drives autophagy, the underlying mechanisms are still being unraveled and few ULK1 substrates have been identified to date. Here, we identify that loss of FLCN moderately impairs basal autophagic flux, while re-expression of FLCN rescues autophagy. We reveal that the FLCN complex is regulated by ULK1 and elucidate 3 novel phosphorylation sites (Ser406, Ser537, and Ser542) within FLCN, which are induced by ULK1 overexpression. In addition, our findings demonstrate that FLCN interacts with a second integral component of the autophagy machinery, GABA(A) receptor-associated protein (GABARAP). The FLCN-GABARAP association is modulated by the presence of either folliculin-interacting protein (FNIP)-1 or FNIP2 and further regulated by ULK1. As observed by elevation of GABARAP, sequestome 1 (SQSTM1) and microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (MAP1LC3B) in chromophobe and clear cell tumors from a BHD patient, we found that autophagy is impaired in BHD-associated renal tumors. Consequently, this work reveals a novel facet of autophagy regulation by ULK1 and substantially contributes to our understanding of FLCN function by linking it directly to autophagy through GABARAP and ULK1.
Project description:Folliculin (FLCN) is a tumor-suppressor protein mutated in the Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome, which associates with two paralogous proteins, folliculin-interacting protein (FNIP)1 and FNIP2, forming a complex that interacts with the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Although it is clear that this complex influences AMPK and other metabolic regulators, reports of its effects have been inconsistent. To address this issue, we created a recessive loss-of-function variant of Fnip1 Homozygous FNIP1 deficiency resulted in profound B-cell deficiency, partially restored by overexpression of the antiapoptotic protein BCL2, whereas heterozygous deficiency caused a loss of marginal zone B cells. FNIP1-deficient mice developed cardiomyopathy characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy and glycogen accumulation, with close parallels to mice and humans bearing gain-of-function mutations in the ?2 subunit of AMPK. Concordantly, ?2-specific AMPK activity was elevated in neonatal FNIP1-deficient myocardium, whereas AMPK-dependent unc-51-like autophagy activating kinase 1 (ULK1) phosphorylation and autophagy were increased in FNIP1-deficient B-cell progenitors. These data support a role for FNIP1 as a negative regulator of AMPK.
Project description:Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by cutaneous fibrofolliculomas, pulmonary cysts, and kidney malignancies. Affected individuals carry germ line mutations in folliculin (FLCN), a tumor suppressor gene that becomes biallelically inactivated in kidney tumors by second-hit mutations. Similar to other factors implicated in kidney cancer, FLCN has been shown to modulate activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). However, its precise in vivo function is largely unknown because germ line deletion of Flcn results in early embryonic lethality in animal models. Here, we describe mice deficient in the newly characterized folliculin-interacting protein 1 (Fnip1). In contrast to Flcn, Fnip1(-/-) mice develop normally, are not susceptible to kidney neoplasia, but display a striking pro-B cell block that is entirely independent of mTOR activity. We show that this developmental arrest results from rapid caspase-induced pre-B cell death, and that a Bcl2 transgene reconstitutes mature B-cell populations, respectively. We also demonstrate that conditional deletion of Flcn recapitulates the pro-B cell arrest of Fnip1(-/-) mice. Our studies thus demonstrate that the FLCN-FNIP complex deregulated in BHD syndrome is absolutely required for B-cell differentiation, and that it functions through both mTOR-dependent and independent pathways.
Project description:Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by hamartomas of skin follicles, cystic lung disease, and renal neoplasia. Affected individuals carry heterozygous mutations in Folliculin (FLCN), a tumor suppressor gene that becomes biallelically inactivated in kidney tumors by second-hit mutations. Similar to other factors implicated in kidney malignancies, Folliculin has been shown to modulate activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). However, its precise in vivo function is largely unknown because germline deletion of Flcn results in early embryonic lethality in animal models. We here describe mice deficient in the newly characterized Folliculin-Interacting Protein 1 (Fnip1). In contrast to Flcn, Fnip1-/- mice develop normally, are not susceptible to kidney neoplasia, but display a striking pro-B cell block that is independent of mTOR activity. We show that this developmental arrest results at least in part from impaired V(D)J recombination and caspase-induced cell death, and that pre-recombined V(D)J and Bcl2 transgenes reconstitute pre-B and mature B cell populations respectively. We also demonstrate that conditional deletion of Flcn recapitulates the pro-B cell arrest of Fnip1-/- mice. Our studies thus demonstrate that the Flcn-Fnip complex deregulated in BHD syndrome is absolutely required for B cell differentiation and that it functions both through mTOR dependent and independent pathways. RNASeq data for two pro-B cell subsets (fraction B and CC') isolated from wt and Fnip1-/- mice
Project description:FLCN was identified as the gene responsible for Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome, a hereditary syndrome associated with the appearance of familiar renal oncocytomas. Most mutations affecting FLCN result in the truncation of the protein, and therefore loss of its associated functions, as typical for a tumor suppressor. FLCN encodes the protein folliculin (FLCN), which is involved in numerous biological processes; mutations affecting this protein thus lead to different phenotypes depending on the cellular context. FLCN forms complexes with two large interacting proteins, FNIP1 and FNIP2. Structural studies have shown that both FLCN and FNIPs contain longin and differentially expressed in normal versus neoplastic cells (DENN) domains, typically involved in the regulation of small GTPases. Accordingly, functional studies show that FLCN regulates both the Rag and the Rab GTPases depending on nutrient availability, which are respectively involved in the mTORC1 pathway and lysosomal positioning. Although recent structural studies shed light on the precise mechanism by which FLCN regulates the Rag GTPases, which in turn regulate mTORC1, how FLCN regulates membrane trafficking through the Rab GTPases or the significance of the intriguing FLCN-FNIP-AMPK complex formation are questions that still remain unanswered. We discuss the recent progress in our understanding of FLCN regulation of both growth signaling and lysosomal positioning, as well as future approaches to establish detailed mechanisms to explain the disparate phenotypes caused by the loss of FLCN function and the development of BHD-associated and other tumors.
Project description:Folliculin-interacting protein 1 and 2 (FNIP1 and FNIP2) play critical roles in preventing renal malignancy through their association with the tumor suppressor FLCN. Mutations in FLCN are associated with Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome, a rare disorder with increased risk of renal cancer. Recent studies indicated that FNIP1/FNIP2 double knockout mice display enlarged polycystic kidneys and renal carcinoma, which phenocopies FLCN knockout mice, suggesting that these two proteins function together to suppress renal cancer. However, the molecular mechanism functionally linking FNIP1/FNIP2 and FLCN remains largely elusive. Here, we demonstrated that FNIP2 protein is unstable and subjected to proteasome-dependent degradation via ?-TRCP and Casein Kinase 1 (CK1)-directed ubiquitination in a nutrition-dependent manner. Degradation of FNIP2 leads to lysosomal dissociation of FLCN and subsequent lysosomal association of mTOR, which in turn promotes the proliferation of renal cancer cells. These results indicate that SCF?-TRCP negatively regulates the FLCN complex by promoting FNIP degradation and provide molecular insight into the pathogenesis of BHD-associated renal cancer.
Project description:Germline mutations in the novel tumor suppressor gene FLCN are responsible for the autosomal dominant inherited disorder Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome that predisposes to fibrofolliculomas, lung cysts and spontaneous pneumothorax, and an increased risk for developing kidney tumors. Although the encoded protein, folliculin (FLCN), has no sequence homology to known functional domains, x-ray crystallographic studies have shown that the C-terminus of FLCN has structural similarity to DENN (differentially expressed in normal cells and neoplasia) domain proteins that act as guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) for small Rab GTPases. FLCN forms a complex with folliculin interacting proteins 1 and 2 (FNIP1, FNIP2) and with 5' AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). This review summarizes FLCN functional studies which support a role for FLCN in diverse metabolic pathways and cellular processes that include modulation of the mTOR pathway, regulation of PGC1? and mitochondrial biogenesis, cell-cell adhesion and RhoA signaling, control of TFE3/TFEB transcriptional activity, amino acid-dependent activation of mTORC1 on lysosomes through Rag GTPases, and regulation of autophagy. Ongoing research efforts are focused on clarifying the primary FLCN-associated pathway(s) that drives the development of fibrofolliculomas, lung cysts and kidney tumors in BHD patients carrying germline FLCN mutations.
Project description:Renal tumors that arise in individuals with BHD Syndrome represent a molecularly distinct form of renal cancer. In addition, BHD syndrome is due to a mutation the folliculin gene (FLCN). While the folliculin gene is an important tumor suppressor gene, the molecular function of this gene is not well defined. By analyzing tumor samples that contain FLCN mutations, we demonstrate that the FLCN gene is an important regulator of mitochondrial function. Gene expression profiling of BHDS tumors and normal kidney tissues
Project description:Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is an autosomal dominant disorder where patients are predisposed to kidney cancer, lung and kidney cysts and benign skin tumors. BHD is caused by heterozygous mutations affecting folliculin (FLCN), a conserved protein that is considered a tumor suppressor. Previous research has uncovered multiple roles for FLCN in cellular physiology, yet it remains unclear how these translate to BHD lesions. Since BHD manifests hallmark characteristics of ciliopathies, we speculated that FLCN might also have a ciliary role. Our data indicate that FLCN localizes to motile and non-motile cilia, centrosomes and the mitotic spindle. Alteration of FLCN levels can cause changes to the onset of ciliogenesis, without abrogating it. In three-dimensional culture, abnormal expression of FLCN disrupts polarized growth of kidney cells and deregulates canonical Wnt signalling. Our findings further suggest that BHD-causing FLCN mutants may retain partial functionality. Thus, several BHD symptoms may be due to abnormal levels of FLCN rather than its complete loss and accordingly, we show expression of mutant FLCN in a BHD-associated renal carcinoma. We propose that BHD is a novel ciliopathy, its symptoms at least partly due to abnormal ciliogenesis and canonical Wnt signalling.
Project description:Folliculin (FLCN) is a tumor suppressor that coordinates cellular responses to changes in amino acid availability via regulation of the Rag guanosine triphosphatases. FLCN is recruited to lysosomes during amino acid starvation, where it interacts with RagA/B as a heterodimeric complex with FLCN-interacting proteins (FNIPs). The FLCN-FNIP heterodimer also has GTPase-activating protein (GAP) activity toward RagC/D. These properties raised two important questions. First, how is amino acid availability sensed to regulate lysosomal abundance of FLCN? Second, what is the relationship between FLCN lysosome localization, RagA/B interactions, and RagC/D GAP activity? In this study, we show that RagA/B nucleotide status determines the FLCN-FNIP1 recruitment to lysosomes. Starvation-induced FLCN-FNIP lysosome localization requires GAP activity toward Rags 1 (GATOR1), the GAP that converts RagA/B to the guanosine diphosphate (GDP)-bound state. This places FLCN-FNIP recruitment to lysosomes under the control of amino acid sensors that act upstream of GATOR1. By binding to RagA/BGDP and acting on RagC/D, FLCN-FNIP can coordinate nucleotide status between Rag heterodimer subunits in response to changes in amino acid availability.
Project description:Von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor (VHL) is lost in the majority of clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCC). Folliculin (FLCN) is a tumor suppressor whose function is lost in Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome (BHD), a disorder characterized by renal cancer of multiple histological types including clear cell carcinoma, cutaneous fibrofolliculoma, and pneumothorax. Here we explored whether there is connection between VHL and FLCN in clear cell renal carcinoma cell lines and tumors. We demonstrate that VHL regulates expression of FLCN at the mRNA and protein levels in RCC cell lines, and that FLCN protein expression is decreased in human ccRCC tumors with VHL loss, as compared with matched normal kidney tissue. Knockdown of FLCN results in increased formation of tumors by RCC cells with wild-type VHL in orthotopic xenografts in nude mice, an indication that FLCN plays a role in the tumor-suppressing activity of VHL. Interestingly, FLCN, similarly to VHL, is necessary for the activity of LC3C-mediated autophagic program that we have previously characterized as contributing to the tumor suppressing activity of VHL. The results show the existence of functional crosstalk between two major tumor suppressors in renal cancer, VHL and FLCN, converging on regulation of autophagy.