Targeting YAP and Hippo signaling pathway in liver cancer

Department of Pharmacology, National University of Singapore, 117597, Singapore.
Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets (Impact Factor: 5.14). 08/2010; 14(8):855-68. DOI: 10.1517/14728222.2010.499361
Source: PubMed


The Hippo signaling pathway plays pivotal roles in controlling both cell growth and organ size, emerging as a new paradigm in tumor suppression. Yes-associated protein (YAP) functions as a potent transcription co-activator and is a major downstream target tightly regulated by the Hippo pathway. Inactivation of the Hippo signaling induces YAP-mediated activation of various target genes that functionally causes cellular proliferation and outgrowth of organ size. Recently, YAP has been implicated as a bona fide oncogene in solid tumors, but little is known about its exact molecular mechanism in carcinogenesis.
We discuss the latest important findings in the Hippo signaling pathway and the possible means of developing potential cancer therapeutics by targeting multiple sites along the Hippo pathway.
An overview of the emerging roles of YAP and Hippo signaling in oncogenesis and the possible ways of developing cancer therapies against the pathway components, downstream targets or interconnected pathways.
YAP is a key oncogenic driver in liver carcinogenesis and deregulation of the Hippo pathway causes tumor formation and malignancy. Targeting YAP and cognate downstream signaling targets may have clinical utility in cancer therapies.

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    • "Recent studies have identified the novel transcriptional co-activator, the Yes-Associated Protein (YAP), as an oncoprotein closely correlated with the development of HCC. YAP is an independent prognostic marker of HCC because it is overexpressed in 62% HCC patients[18], and modulates the liver size and liver tumorigenesis1920212223.demonstrated that hypoxia modulates Hippo signaling through SIAH2-mediated degradation of LATS2, leading to the activation of YAP to promote breast cancer cell proliferation and growth[30]. However, the cellular roles and biological function of YAP in hypoxic HCC remain elusive. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although hypoxia is a prominent feature contributing to the therapeutic resistance of hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCC) against chemotherapeutic agents, including the Topoisomerase I inhibitor SN38, the underlying mechanism is not fully understood and its understanding remains a major clinical challenge. In the present study, we found that hypoxia-induced nuclear translocation and accumulation of YAP acted as a survival input to promote resistance to SN38 in HCC. The induction of YAP by hypoxia was not mediated by HIF-1α because manipulating the abundance of HIF-1α with CoCl2, exogenous expression, and RNA interference had no effect on the phosphorylation or total levels of YAP. The mevalonate-HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) pathway may modulate the YAP activation under hypoxia. Combined YAP inhibition using either siRNA or the HMGCR inhibitor statins together with SN38 treatment produced improved anti-cancer effects in HCC cells. The increased anti-cancer effect of the combined treatment with statins and irinotecan (the prodrug of SN-38) was further validated in a human HepG2 xenograft model of HCC in nude mice. Taken together, our findings identify YAP as a novel mediator of hypoxic-resistance to SN38. These results suggest that the administration of SN28 together with the suppression of YAP using statins is a promising strategy for enhancing the treatment response in HCC patients, particularly in advanced stage HCC cases presenting hypoxic resistance.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Oncotarget
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    • "c-Myc and Cyclin E are both confirmed target proteins of Fbxw7. YAP functions as a transcriptional coactivator involved in the regulation of cell growth, proliferation, and apoptosis [19]. Fbxw7 knockdown led to c-Myc and Cyclin E accumulation in Hep3B cells and Fbxw7 overexpression decreased the levels of both proteins in HepG2 cells (Figure  4A). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The E3 ubiquitin ligase Fbxw7 functions as a general tumor suppressor by targeting several well-known oncoproteins for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. However, the clinical significance of Fbxw7 and the mechanisms involved in the anti-cancer effect of Fbxw7 in HCC are not clear. Method The Fbxw7 and YAP expression in 60 samples of surgical resected HCC and matched normal tumor-adjacent tissues were assessed using IHC or immunoblotting. Flow cytometry, caspase 3/7 activity assay, BrdU cell proliferation assay and MTT assay were used to detect proliferation and apoptosis of HCC cells. The regulatory effect of Fbxw7 on YAP in HCC cells was confirmed by qRT-PCR, immunoblotting and immunofluorescence. Co-immunoprecipitation was used to analyze interaction between YAP and Fbxw7. Nude mice subcutaneous injection, Ki-67 staining and TUNEL assay were used to evaluate tumor growth and apoptosis in vivo. Results In this study, we found that Fbxw7 expression was impaired in HCC tissues and loss of Fbxw7 expression was correlated with poor clinicopathological features including large tumor size, venous infiltration, high pathological grading and advanced TNM stage. Additionally, we demonstrated that patients with positive Fbxw7 expression had a better 5-year survival and Fbxw7 was an independent factor for predicting the prognosis of HCC patients. We confirmed that Fbxw7 inhibited HCC by inducing both apoptosis and growth arrest. Elevated YAP expression was observed in the same cohort of HCC tissues. Pearson's correlation coefficient analysis indicated that Fbxw7 was inversely associated with YAP protein expression in HCC tissues. We also found that Fbxw7 regulated YAP protein abundance by targeting YAP for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation in HCC. Furthermore, restoring YAP expression partially abrogated Fbxw7 induced HCC cell apoptosis and growth arrest in vitro and in vivo. Conclusion These results indicate that Fbxw7 may serve as a prognostic marker and that YAP may be a potential target of Fbxw7 in HCC.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Molecular Cancer
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    • "Heart specific expression of Mst1 leads to dilated cardiomyopathy with reduction in cell density in heart [18]. Liver specific removal of Mst1/Mst2 in newborn mice results in liver enlargement and formation of hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma [12,19-21]. Similarly, in mouse intestines and pancreas, inactivation of Mst1/Mst2 leads to intestinal stem cell overproliferation, colonic tumorigenesis and pancreas overgrowth [22-24], suggesting important roles of Mst1/Mst2 in organ size control and tumorigenesis. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Hippo pathway is an evolutionary conserved pathway that involves cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and organ size regulation. Mst1 and Mst2 are central components of this pathway that are essential for embryonic development, though their role in controlling embryonic stem cells (ES cells) has yet to be exploited. To further understand the Mst1/Mst2 function in ES cell pluripotency and differentiation, we derived Mst1/Mst2 double knockout (Mst-/-) ES cells to completely perturb Hippo signaling. We found that Mst-/- ES cells express higher level of Nanog than wild type ES cells and show differentiation resistance after LIF withdrawal. They also proliferate faster than wild type ES cells. Although Mst-/- ES cells can form embryoid bodies (EBs), their differentiation into tissues of three germ layers is distorted. Intriguingly, Mst-/- ES cells are unable to form teratoma. Mst-/- ES cells can differentiate into mesoderm lineage, but further differentiation to cardiac lineage cells is significantly affected. Microarray analysis revealed that ligands of non-canonical Wnt signaling, which is critical for cardiac progenitor specification, are significantly repressed in Mst-/- EBs. Taken together our results showed that Mst1/Mst2 are required for proper cardiac lineage cell development and teratoma formation.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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