Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Dysregulated YAP1/TAZ and TGF-β signaling mediate hepatocarcinogenesis in Mob1a/1b-deficient mice.

PMID 26699479


Mps One Binder Kinase Activator (MOB)1A/1B are core components of the Hippo pathway that coactivate large tumor suppressor homolog (LATS) kinases. Mob1a/1b double deficiency in mouse liver (LMob1DKO) results in hyperplasia of oval cells and immature cholangiocytes accompanied by inflammatory cell infiltration and fibrosis. More than half of mutant mice die within 3 wk of birth. All survivors eventually develop liver cancers, particularly combined hepatocellular and cholangiocarcinomas (cHC-CCs) and intrahepatic cholangiocellular carcinomas (ICCs), and die by age 60 wk. Because this phenotype is the most severe among mutant mice lacking a Hippo signaling component, MOB1A/1B constitute the critical hub of Hippo signaling in mammalian liver. LMob1DKO liver cells show hyperproliferation, increased cell saturation density, hepatocyte dedifferentiation, enhanced epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cell migration, and elevated transforming growth factor beta(TGF-β)2/3 production. These changes are strongly dependent on Yes-Associated Protein-1 (Yap1) and partially dependent on PDZ-binding motif (Taz) and Tgfbr2, but independent of connective tissue growth factor (Ctgf). In human liver cancers, YAP1 activation is frequent in cHC-CCs and ICCs and correlates with SMAD family member 2 activation. Drug screening revealed that antiparasitic macrocyclic lactones inhibit YAP1 activation in vitro and in vivo. Targeting YAP1/TAZ with these drugs in combination with inhibition of the TGF-β pathway may be effective treatment for cHC-CCs and ICCs.