A division of labor between YAP and TAZ in non-small cell lung cancer

Lung Cancer

Cancer Res. 2020 Aug 14:canres.0125.2020. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-0125. Online ahead of print.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The paralogous transcriptional cofactors Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional co-activator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ, also called WWTR1), the main downstream effectors of the Hippo signal transduction pathway, are emerging as pivotal determinants of malignancy in lung cancer. Traditionally, studies have tended to consider YAP and TAZ as functionally redundant transcriptional cofactors with similar biological

impact. However, there is growing evidence that each of them also possesses distinct attributes. Here we sought to systematically characterize the division of labor between YAP and TAZ in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common histological subtype of lung cancer. Representative NSCLC cell lines as well as patient-derived data showed that the two paralogs orchestrated non-overlapping transcriptional programs in this cancer type: YAP preferentially regulated gene sets associated with cell division and cell cycle progression, while TAZ preferentially regulated genes associated with extracellular matrix organization. Depletion of YAP resulted in growth arrest, while its overexpression promoted cell proliferation. Likewise, depletion of TAZ compromised cell migration, whereas its overexpression enhanced migration. The differential effects of YAP and TAZ on key cellular processes were also associated with differential response to anti-cancer therapies. Uncovering the different activities and downstream effects of YAP and TAZ may thus facilitate better stratification of lung cancer patients for anti-cancer therapies.