Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable blood cancer that is often characterized by amplification and overexpression of the MYC oncogene. Despite efforts, direct targeting of MYC is not yet possible; therefore, alternative strategies to inhibit MYC activity are necessary. TAZ is a transcriptional coactivator downstream of the Hippo-signaling pathway that functions as an oncogene in many solid tumors. However, its role in hematological malignancies is largely unexplored. Here, we show that, in contrast to solid tumors, expression of TAZ is lower in hematological malignancies, and that high expression of TAZ correlates with better patient outcomes. We further show that TAZ is hypermethylated in MM patient samples and in a panel of MM cell lines. Genetic overexpression of TAZ or pharmacological upregulation of TAZ by treatment with the demethylating agent decitabine induces apoptosis. Importantly, TAZ-induced apoptosis is independent of canonical Hippo components LATS1 or the TEA-domain family of transcription factors. Instead, RNA-sequencing analysis revealed that overexpression of TAZ represses a MYC transcriptional program and we show that increased TAZ expression correlates with decreased MYC expression in both cell-line models and patient samples. Furthermore, promoter derepression of TAZ expression sensitizes MM cell lines through a reciprocal reduction in MYC expression using additional therapeutics such as bortezomib, trichostatin A, and panobinostat. Our findings uncover an unexpected role for TAZ in MM tumorigenesis and provide a compelling rationale for exploring the therapeutic potential of upregulating TAZ expression to restore sensitivity to specific therapeutics in MM.
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