Agrin as a Mechanotransduction Signal Regulating YAP through the Hippo Pathway

Cell Rep. 2017 Mar 7;18(10):2464-2479. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.02.041.


The Hippo pathway effectors YAP and TAZ act as nuclear sensors of mechanical signals in response to extracellular matrix (ECM) cues. However, the identity and nature of regulators in the ECM and the precise pathways relaying mechanoresponsive signals into intracellular sensors remain unclear. Here, we uncover a functional link between the ECM proteoglycan Agrin and the transcriptional co-activator YAP. Importantly, Agrin transduces matrix and cellular rigidity signals that enhance stability and mechanoactivity of YAP through the integrin-focal adhesion- and Lrp4/MuSK receptor-mediated signaling pathways. Agrin antagonizes focal adhesion assembly of the core Hippo components by facilitating ILK-PAK1 signaling and negating the functions of Merlin and LATS1/2. We further show that Agrin promotes oncogenesis through YAP-dependent transcription and is clinically relevant in human liver cancer. We propose that Agrin acts as a mechanotransduction signal in the ECM.

Keywords: Agrin; YAP/TAZ; extracellular matrix; focal adhesions; hippo pathway; integrins; liver cancer; mechanotransduction.

MeSH terms

  • 14-3-3 Proteins / metabolism
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Agrin / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Mice, Nude
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Stability
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription Factors
  • YAP-Signaling Proteins


  • 14-3-3 Proteins
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Agrin
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • YAP-Signaling Proteins
  • YAP1 protein, human
  • Focal Adhesion Protein-Tyrosine Kinases