TFE3 Xp11.2 Translocation Renal Cell Carcinoma Mouse Model Reveals Novel Therapeutic Targets and Identifies GPNMB as a Diagnostic Marker for Human Disease

Mol Cancer Res. 2019 Aug;17(8):1613-1626. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-18-1235. Epub 2019 May 1.


Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) associated with Xp11.2 translocation (TFE3-RCC) has been recently defined as a distinct subset of RCC classified by characteristic morphology and clinical presentation. The Xp11 translocations involve the TFE3 transcription factor and produce chimeric TFE3 proteins retaining the basic helix-loop-helix leucine zipper structure for dimerization and DNA binding suggesting that chimeric TFE3 proteins function as oncogenic transcription factors. Diagnostic biomarkers and effective forms of therapy for advanced cases of TFE3-RCC are as yet unavailable. To facilitate the development of molecular based diagnostic tools and targeted therapies for this aggressive kidney cancer, we generated a translocation RCC mouse model, in which the PRCC-TFE3 transgene is expressed specifically in kidneys leading to the development of RCC with characteristic histology. Expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase Ret was elevated in the kidneys of the TFE3-RCC mice, and treatment with RET inhibitor, vandetanib, significantly suppressed RCC growth. Moreover, we found that Gpnmb (Glycoprotein nonmetastatic B) expression was notably elevated in the TFE3-RCC mouse kidneys as seen in human TFE3-RCC tumors, and confirmed that GPNMB is the direct transcriptional target of TFE3 fusions. While GPNMB IHC staining was positive in 9/9 cases of TFE3-RCC, Cathepsin K, a conventional marker for TFE3-RCC, was positive in only 67% of cases. These data support RET as a potential target and GPNMB as a diagnostic marker for TFE3-RCC. The TFE3-RCC mouse provides a preclinical in vivo model for the development of new biomarkers and targeted therapeutics for patients affected with this aggressive form of RCC. IMPLICATIONS: Key findings from studies with this preclinical mouse model of TFE3-RCC underscore the potential for RET as a therapeutic target for treatment of patients with TFE3-RCC, and suggest that GPNMB may serve as diagnostic biomarker for TFE3 fusion RCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Child
  • Chromosomes, Human, X*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion*
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate
  • Translocation, Genetic*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Young Adult


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • GPNMB protein, human
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • PRCC protein, human
  • TFE3 protein, human