A Combat With the YAP/TAZ-TEAD Oncoproteins for Cancer Therapy

Theranostics. 2020 Feb 18;10(8):3622-3635. doi: 10.7150/thno.40889. eCollection 2020.


The transcriptional co-regulators YAP and TAZ pair primarily with the TEAD family of transcription factors to elicit a gene expression signature that plays a prominent role in cancer development, progression and metastasis. YAP and TAZ endow cells with various oncogenic traits such that they sustain proliferation, inhibit apoptosis, maintain stemness, respond to mechanical stimuli, engineer metabolism, promote angiogenesis, suppress immune response and develop resistance to therapies. Therefore, inhibiting YAP/TAZ- TEAD is an attractive and viable option for novel cancer therapy. It is exciting to know that many drugs already in the clinic restrict YAP/TAZ activities and several novel YAP/TAZ inhibitors are currently under development. We have classified YAP/TAZ-inhibiting drugs into three groups. Group I drugs act on the upstream regulators that are stimulators of YAP/TAZ activities. Many of the Group I drugs have the potential to be repurposed as YAP/TAZ indirect inhibitors to treat various solid cancers. Group II modalities act directly on YAP/TAZ or TEADs and disrupt their interaction; targeting TEADs has emerged as a novel option to inhibit YAP/TAZ, as TEADs are major mediators of their oncogenic programs. TEADs can also be leveraged on using small molecules to activate YAP/TAZ-dependent gene expression for use in regenerative medicine. Group III drugs focus on targeting one of the oncogenic downstream YAP/TAZ transcriptional target genes. With the right strategy and impetus, it is not far-fetched to expect a repurposed group I drug or a novel group II drug to combat YAP and TAZ in cancers in the near future.

Keywords: Hippo; TAZ; TEAD; YAP; cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Review