YAP and TAZ (YAP/TAZ), two major effectors of the Hippo signaling pathway, are frequently activated in human cancers. The activity of YAP/TAZ is strictly repressed upon phosphorylation by LATS1/2 tumor suppressors. However, it is unclear how LATS1/2 are precisely regulated by upstream factors such as Hippo kinases MST1/2. Here, we show that WWC proteins (WWC1/2/3) directly interact with LATS1/2 and SAV1, and SAV1, in turn, brings in MST1/2 to phosphorylate and activate LATS1/2. Hence, WWC1/2/3 play an organizer role in a signaling module that mediates LATS1/2 activation by MST1/2. Moreover, we have defined a minimum protein interaction interface on WWC1/2/3 that is sufficient to activate LATS1/2 in a robust and specific manner. The corresponding minigene, dubbed as SuperHippo, can effectively suppress tumorigenesis in multiple tumor models. Our study has uncovered a molecular mechanism underlying LATS1/2 regulation and provides a strategy for treating diverse malignancies related to Hippo pathway dysregulation.
Keywords: Hippo; KIBRA; LATS1; LATS2; MST1; MST2; TAZ; WWC1; YAP; cancer.
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