Yes-associated protein (YAP) induces a secretome phenotype and transcriptionally regulates plasminogen activator Inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) expression in hepatocarcinogenesis

Simone Marquard, Stefan Thomann, Sofia M.E. Weiler, Michaela Bissinger, Teresa Lutz, Carsten Sticht, Marcell Tóth, Carolina de la Torre, Norbert Gretz, Beate K. Straub, Jens Marquardt, Peter Schirmacher, Kai Breuhahn*

*Corresponding author for this work


Background: Overexpression and nuclear enrichment of the oncogene yes-associated protein (YAP) cause tumor initiation and support tumor progression in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) via cell autonomous mechanisms. However, how YAP expression in tumor cells affects intercellular communication within the tumor microenvironment is not well understood. Methods: To investigate how tumor cell-derived YAP is changing the paracrine communication network between tumor cells and non-neoplastic cells in hepatocarcinogenesis, the expression and secretion of cytokines, growth factors and chemokines were analyzed in transgenic mice with liver-specific and inducible expression of constitutively active YAP (YAPS127A). Transcriptomic and proteomic analyses were performed using primary isolated hepatocytes and blood plasma. In vitro, RNAinterference (RNAi), expression profiling, functional analyses and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analyses of YAP and the transcription factor TEA domain transcription factor 4 (TEAD4) were performed using immortalized cell lines. Findings were confirmed in cohorts of HCC patients at the transcript and protein levels. Results: YAP overexpression induced the expression and secretion of many paracrine-acting factors with potential impact on tumorous or non-neoplastic cells (e.g. plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 13 (CXCL13), CXCL16). Expression analyses of human HCC patients showed an overexpression of PAI-1 in human HCC tissues and a correlation with poor overall survival as well as early cancer recurrence. PAI-1 statistically correlated with genes typically induced by YAP, such as connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) and cysteine rich angiogenic inducer 61 (CYR61) or YAP-dependent gene signatures (CIN4/25). In vitro, YAP inhibition diminished the expression and secretion of PAI-1 in murine and human liver cancer cell lines. PAI-1 affected the expression of genes involved in cellular senescence and oncogene-induced senescence was confirmed in YAPS127A transgenic mice. Silencing of TEAD4 as well as treatment with the YAP/TEAD interfering substance Verteporfin reduced PAI-1 expression. ChIP analyses confirmed the binding of YAP and TEAD4 to the gene promoter of PAI-1 (SERPINE1). Conclusions: These results demonstrate that the oncogene YAP changes the secretome response of hepatocytes and hepatocyte-derived tumor cells. In this context, the secreted protein PAI-1 is transcriptionally regulated by YAP in hepatocarcinogenesis. Perturbation of these YAP-dependent communication hubs including PAI-1 may represent a promising pharmacological approach in tumors with YAP overexpression. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number166
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.2020


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