FOXL2 in adult-type granulosa cell tumour of the ovary: oncogene or tumour suppressor gene?

J Pathol. 2021 Nov;255(3):225-231. doi: 10.1002/path.5771. Epub 2021 Sep 1.


A recurrent mutation in FOXL2 (c.402C>G; p.C134W) is present in over 95% of adult-type granulosa cell tumours (AGCTs). In contrast, various loss-of-function mutations in FOXL2 lead to the development of blepharophimosis, ptosis, and epicanthus inversus syndrome (BPES). BPES is characterised by an eyelid malformation often accompanied with primary ovarian insufficiency. Two recent studies suggest that FOXL2 C402G is a gain- or change-of-function mutation with altered DNA-binding specificity. Another study proposes that FOXL2 C402G is selectively targeted for degradation, inducing somatic haploinsufficiency, suggesting its role as a tumour suppressor. The latter study relies on data indicative of an FOXL2 allelic imbalance in AGCTs. Here we present RNA-seq data as genetic evidence that no real allelic imbalance is observed at the transcriptomic level in AGCTs. Additionally, there is no loss of protein expression in tumours harbouring the mutated allele. These data and other features of this mutation compared to other oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes argue strongly against FOXL2 being a tumour suppressor in this context. Given the likelihood that FOXL2 C402G is oncogenic, targeting the variant protein or its downstream consequences is the most viable path forward to identifying an effective treatment for this cancer. © 2021 The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: FOXL2; adult-type granulosa cell tumours; allelic imbalance; immunohistochemistry; transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein L2 / genetics*
  • Granulosa Cell Tumor / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Oncogenes / genetics*


  • FOXL2 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein L2

Supplementary concepts

  • Granulosa cell tumor of the ovary