Inactivating mutations of von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) are highly prevalent in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Improved understanding of the vulnerabilities of VHL-deficient ccRCC could lead to improved treatment strategies. The activity of DNA dioxygenase ten-eleven translocation (TET)2 is significantly reduced in multiple cancers by different mechanisms, but its role in ccRCC progression remains unclear. Here, we report that increased expression of TET2, but not TET1 and TET3, is negatively associated with tumor metastasis and advanced tumor stage and is positively associated with good prognosis uniquely in ccRCC among all 33 types of cancer in The Cancer Genome Atlas datasets. TET2 restrained glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway metabolism in a VHL deficiency–dependent manner, thereby suppressing ccRCC progression. Notably, TET2 and VHL mutations tended to cooccur in ccRCC, providing genetic evidence that they cooperate to inhibit the progression of ccRCC. Mechanistically, TET2 was recruited by transcription factor HNF4α to activate FBP1 expression, which antagonized the function of hypoxia-inducible factor-1/2α (HIF1/2α) in metabolic reprogramming to impede ccRCC growth. Stimulating the TET2-FBP1 axis with vitamin C repressed the growth of VHL-deficient ccRCC with wild-type TET2 and increased the sensitivity to glycolysis inhibitors. Moreover, combined expression levels of the HNF4α–TET2-FBP1 axis served as a biomarker of prognosis in patients with ccRCC. This study reveals a unique function of TET2 in the suppression of tumor metabolism and HIF signaling, and it also provides therapeutic targets, potential drugs, and prognostic markers for the management of ccRCC.
The identification of TET2-mediated inhibition of HIF signaling and tumor metabolic reprogramming provides insights for new therapeutic strategies for VHL-deficient ccRCC.