Vitamin D Receptor Activation Attenuates Hippo Pathway Effectors and Cell Survival in Metastatic Neuroblastoma

Mol Cancer Res. 2022 Jun 3;20(6):895-908. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-21-0425.


Survival for high-risk neuroblastoma remains poor. Most patients who recur, present with metastatic disease, and few targetable pathways that govern spread to distant sites are currently known. We previously developed a metastatic mouse model to select cells with enhanced ability to spread to the bone and brain and identified a signature based on differentially expressed genes, which also predicted patient survival. To discover new neuroblastoma therapies, we utilized the Connectivity Map to identify compounds that can reverse this metastatic transcriptional signature and found calcipotriol, a vitamin D3 analog, to be a compound that selectively targets cell lines with enhanced metastatic potential. Calcipotriol treatment of enhanced metastatic, but not parental, cells reduces proliferation and survival via vitamin D receptor (VDR) signaling, increases the expression of RASSF2, a negative regulator of the Hippo signaling pathway, and reduces the levels of the Hippo pathway effectors YAP and TAZ. RASSF2 is required for the effects of calcipotriol and for the reduction of levels and nuclear localization of YAP/TAZ. Migration of the enhanced metastatic cells and YAP/TAZ levels are reduced after calcipotriol treatment and YAP overexpression reduces calcipotriol sensitivity. Furthermore, metastatic cells that overexpress VDR also showed lower tumor burden in vivo.

Implications: This newly identified link between VDR signaling and the Hippo pathway could inform treatment strategies for metastatic neuroblastoma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Hippo Signaling Pathway
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neuroblastoma* / drug therapy
  • Neuroblastoma* / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases* / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • YAP-Signaling Proteins


  • Phosphoproteins
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Transcription Factors
  • YAP-Signaling Proteins
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases