Malignant pleural mesothelioma, a tumor arising from the membrane covering the lungs and the inner side of the ribs, is a cancer in which genetic alterations of genes encoding proteins that act on or are part of the Hippo-YAP1 signaling pathway are frequent. Dysfunctional Hippo signaling may result in aberrant activation of the transcriptional coactivator protein YAP1, which binds to and activates transcription factors of the TEAD family. Recent studies have associated elevated YAP1 protein activity with a poor prognosis of malignant mesothelioma and its resistance to current therapies, but its role in tumor maintenance is unclear. In this study, we investigate the dependence of malignant mesothelioma on YAP1 signaling to maintain fully established tumors in vivo. We show that downregulation of YAP1 in a dysfunctional Hippo genetic background results in the inhibition of YAP1/TEAD-dependent gene expression, the induction of apoptosis, and the inhibition of tumor cell growth in vitro. The conditional downregulation of YAP1 in established tumor xenografts leads to the inhibition of YAP1-dependent gene transcription and eventually tumor regression. This effect is only seen in the YAP1-activated MSTO-211H mesothelioma xenograft model, but not in the Hippo-independent HCT116 colon cancer xenograft model. Our data demonstrate that, in the context of a Hippo pathway mutated background, YAP1 activity alone is enough to maintain the growth of established tumors in vivo, thus validating the concept of inhibiting the activated YAP1-TEAD complex for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma patients.
Keywords: Malignant mesothelioma; Tumor maintenance; YAP-TEAD transcription signature; YAP1.
© 2022. The Author(s).