The Hippo kinase LATS2 impairs pancreatic β-cell survival in diabetes through the mTORC1-autophagy axis

Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 13;12(1):4928. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25145-x.


Diabetes results from a decline in functional pancreatic β-cells, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathological β-cell failure are poorly understood. Here we report that large-tumor suppressor 2 (LATS2), a core component of the Hippo signaling pathway, is activated under diabetic conditions and induces β-cell apoptosis and impaired function. LATS2 deficiency in β-cells and primary isolated human islets as well as β-cell specific LATS2 ablation in mice improves β-cell viability, insulin secretion and β-cell mass and ameliorates diabetes development. LATS2 activates mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a physiological suppressor of autophagy, in β-cells and genetic and pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 counteracts the pro-apoptotic action of activated LATS2. We further show a direct interplay between Hippo and autophagy, in which LATS2 is an autophagy substrate. On the other hand, LATS2 regulates β-cell apoptosis triggered by impaired autophagy suggesting an existence of a stress-sensitive multicomponent cellular loop coordinating β-cell compensation and survival. Our data reveal an important role for LATS2 in pancreatic β-cell turnover and suggest LATS2 as a potential therapeutic target to improve pancreatic β-cell survival and function in diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / genetics
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / metabolism*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • LATS2 protein, human
  • LATS2 protein, mouse
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases