The Hippo pathway plays a pivotal role in tissue homeostasis and tumor suppression. YAP and TAZ are downstream effectors of the Hippo pathway, and their activities are tightly suppressed by phosphorylation-dependent cytoplasmic retention. However, the molecular mechanisms governing YAP/TAZ nuclear localization have not been fully elucidated. Here, we report that Mastermind-like 1 and 2 (MAML1/2) are indispensable for YAP/TAZ nuclear localization and transcriptional activities. Ectopic expression or depletion of MAML1/2 induces nuclear translocation or cytoplasmic retention of YAP/TAZ, respectively. Additionally, mutation of the MAML nuclear localization signal, as well as its YAP/TAZ interacting region, both abolish nuclear localization and transcriptional activity of YAP/TAZ. Importantly, we demonstrate that the level of MAML1 messenger RNA (mRNA) is regulated by microRNA-30c (miR-30c) in a cell-density-dependent manner. In vivo and clinical results suggest that MAML potentiates YAP/TAZ oncogenic function and positively correlates with YAP/TAZ activation in human cancer patients, suggesting pathological relevance in the context of cancer development. Overall, our study not only provides mechanistic insight into the regulation of YAP/TAZ subcellular localization, but it also strongly suggests that the miR30c-MAML-YAP/TAZ axis is a potential therapeutic target for developing novel cancer treatments.
Keywords: Hippo signaling; MAML1/2; TEAD; YAP/TAZ; nuclear localization.