Mutations in the neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) gene that limit or abrogate expression of functional Merlin are common in malignant mesothelioma. Merlin activates the Hippo pathway to suppress nuclear translocation of YAP and TAZ, the major effectors of the pathway that associate with the TEAD transcription factors in the nucleus and promote expression of genes involved in cell proliferation and survival. In this article, we describe the discovery of compounds that selectively inhibit YAP/TAZ-TEAD promoted gene transcription, block TEAD auto-palmitoylation, and disrupt interaction between YAP/TAZ and TEAD. Optimization led to potent analogs with excellent oral bioavailability and pharmacokinetics that selectively inhibit NF2-deficient mesothelioma cell proliferation in vitro and growth of subcutaneous tumor xenografts in vivo These highly potent and selective TEAD inhibitors provide a way to target the Hippo-YAP pathway, which thus far has been undruggable and is dysregulated frequently in malignant mesothelioma and in other YAP-driven cancers and diseases.
©2021 American Association for Cancer Research.