EGF Receptor-Dependent YAP Activation Is Important for Renal Recovery from AKI

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2018 Sep;29(9):2372-2385. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017121272. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


Background: Increasing evidence indicates that renal recovery from AKI stems from dedifferentiation and proliferation of surviving tubule epithelial cells. Both EGF receptor (EGFR) and the Hippo signaling pathway are implicated in cell proliferation and differentiation, and previous studies showed that activation of EGFR in renal proximal tubule epithelial cells (RPTCs) plays a critical role in recovery from ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). In this study, we explored RPTC activation of Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ binding motif (TAZ), two key downstream effectors of the Hippo pathway, and their potential involvement in recovery from AKI.

Methods: We used immunofluorescence to examine YAP expression in kidney biopsy samples from patients with clinical AKI and controls (patients with minimal change disease). Studies of RPTC activation of YAP and TAZ used cultured human RPTCs that were exposed to hypoxia-reoxygenation as well as knockout mice (with inducible deletions of Yap, Taz, or both occurring specifically in RPTCs) that were subjected to bilateral IRI.

Results: YAP was activated in RPTCs in kidneys from post-AKI patients and post-IRI mouse kidneys. Inhibition of the interaction of YAP and the TEA domain (TEAD) transcription factor complex by verteporfin or conditional deletion of YAP in RPTCs delayed renal functional and structural recovery from IRI, whereas TAZ deletion had no effect. Activation of the EGFR-PI3K-Akt pathway in response to IRI signaled YAP activation, which promoted cell cycle progression.

Conclusions: This study shows that EGFR-PI3K-Akt-dependent YAP activation plays an essential role in mediating epithelial cell regeneration during kidney recovery from AKI.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; EGFR; Recovery; YAP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / genetics*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / physiopathology
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / genetics*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Kidney Tubules / cytology
  • Kidney Tubules / pathology
  • Mice
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recovery of Function
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Yap1 protein, mouse
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors