TFEB- and TFE3-dependent autophagy activation supports cancer proliferation in the absence of centrosomes

Chien Han Kao, Ting Yu Su, Wei Syun Huang, Xin Ying Lu, Wann Neng Jane, Chien Yung Huang, Hung Hsiang Huang, Won Jing Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Centrosome amplification is a phenomenon frequently observed in human cancers, so centrosome depletion has been proposed as a therapeutic strategy. However, despite being afflicted with a lack of centrosomes, many cancer cells can still proliferate, implying there are impediments to adopting centrosome depletion as a treatment strategy. Here, we show that TFEB- and TFE3-dependent autophagy activation contributes to acentrosomal cancer proliferation. Our biochemical analyses uncover that both TFEB and TFE3 are novel PLK4 (polo like kinase 4) substrates. Centrosome depletion inactivates PLK4, resulting in TFEB and TFE3 dephosphorylation and subsequent promotion of TFEB and TFE3 nuclear translocation and transcriptional activation of autophagy- and lysosome-related genes. A combination of centrosome depletion and inhibition of the TFEB-TFE3 autophagy-lysosome pathway induced strongly anti-proliferative effects in cancer cells. Thus, our findings point to a new strategy for combating cancer. Abbreviations: AdCre: adenoviral Cre recombinase; AdLuc: adenoviral luciferase; ATG5: autophagy related 5; CQ: chloroquine; DAPI: 4’,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DKO: double knockout; GFP: green fluorescent protein; KO: knockout; LAMP1: lysosomal associated membrane protein 1; LAMP2: lysosomal associated membrane protein 2; LTR: LysoTracker Red; MAP1LC3B/LC3B: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 beta; MITF: melanocyte inducing transcription factor; PLK4: polo like kinase 4; RFP: red fluorescent protein; SASS6: SAS-6 centriolar assembly protein; STIL: STIL centriolar assembly protein; TFEB: transcription factor EB; TFEBΔNLS: TFEB lacking a nuclear localization signal; TFE3: transcription factor binding to IGHM enhancer 3; TP53/p53: tumor protein p53.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2830-2850
Number of pages21
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2022


  • Anti-cancer therapy
  • PLK4
  • autophagy
  • centrosome
  • lysosomal biogenesis
  • transcription factor E3
  • transcription factor EB


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