Theranostics 2021; 11(8):3676-3693. doi:10.7150/thno.55424

Research Paper

Downregulated METTL14 accumulates BPTF that reinforces super-enhancers and distal lung metastasis via glycolytic reprogramming in renal cell carcinoma

Chuanjie Zhang1*, Li Chen2*, Yihan Liu3*, Jingyi Huang1, Ao Liu1, Yang Xu1, Yan Shen4✉, Hongchao He1✉, Danfeng Xu1✉

1. Department of Urology, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, China.
2. Department of Pharmacy, Shanghai Xuhui District Central Hospital, No. 966 Huaihai Middle Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai 200031, China.
3. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 211166, China.
4. Research Center for Experimental Medicine, Ruijin Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, 197 Ruijin Road II, Shanghai, 200025, China.
*Chuanjie Zhang, Li Chen and Yihan Liu contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Zhang C, Chen L, Liu Y, Huang J, Liu A, Xu Y, Shen Y, He H, Xu D. Downregulated METTL14 accumulates BPTF that reinforces super-enhancers and distal lung metastasis via glycolytic reprogramming in renal cell carcinoma. Theranostics 2021; 11(8):3676-3693. doi:10.7150/thno.55424. Available from

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Background: Methyltransferase-like 14 (METTL14) participates in tumorigenesis in several malignancies, but how METTL14 mediates the metastasis of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has never been reported.

Methods: Western blotting, quantitative real-time PCR, and immunohistochemistry were used to determine the mRNA and protein levels of relevant genes. Methylated RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing and RNA sequencing were utilized to screen potential targets of METTL14. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin sequencing were performed to investigate epigenetic alterations. The biological roles and mechanisms of METTL14/BPTF in promoting lung metastasis were confirmed in vitro and in vivo using cell lines, patient samples, xenograft models, and organoids.

Results: Utilizing the TCGA-KIRC and Ruijin-RCC datasets, we found low expression of METTL14 in mRCC samples, which predicted poor prognosis. METTL14 deficiency promoted RCC metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, METTL14-mediated m6A modification negatively regulated the mRNA stability of bromodomain PHD finger transcription factor (BPTF) and depended on BPTF to drive lung metastasis. Accumulated BPTF in METTL14-deficient cells remodeled the enhancer landscape to reinforce several oncogenic crosstalk. Particularly, BPTF constituted super-enhancers that activate downstream targets like enolase 2 and SRC proto-oncogene nonreceptor tyrosine kinase, leading to glycolytic reprogramming of METTL14-/- cells. Finally, we determined the efficacy of the BPTF inhibitor AU1 in suppressing mRCC of patient-derived cells, mRCC-derived organoids (MDOs), and orthotopic xenograft models.

Conclusions: Our study is the first to investigate the essential role of m6A modification and the METTL14/BPTF axis in the epigenetic and metabolic remodeling of mRCC, highlighting AU1 as a vital therapeutic candidate.

Keywords: metastatic RCC, METTL14, BPTF, super-enhancers, glycolysis