Béguelin W, Teater M, Meydan C, Hoehn KB, Phillip JM, Soshnev AA, Venturutti L, Rivas MA, Calvo-Fernández MT, Gutierrez J, Camarillo JM, Takata K, Tarte K, Kelleher NL, Steidl C, Mason CE, Elemento O, Allis CD, Kleinstein SH, Melnick AM
Follicular lymphomas (FLs) are slow-growing, indolent tumors containing extensive follicular dendritic cell (FDC) networks and recurrent EZH2 gain-of-function mutations. Paradoxically, FLs originate from highly proliferative germinal center (GC) B cells with proliferation strictly dependent on interactions with T follicular helper cells. Herein, we show that EZH2 mutations initiate FL by attenuating GC B cell requirement for T cell help and driving slow expansion of GC centrocytes that become enmeshed with and dependent on FDCs. By impairing T cell help, mutant EZH2 prevents induction of proliferative MYC programs. Thus, EZH2 mutation fosters malignant transformation by epigenetically reprograming B cells to form an aberrant immunological niche that reflects characteristic features of human FLs, explaining how indolent tumors arise from GC B cells.