A feed forward loop enforces YAP/TAZ signaling during tumorigenesis.
Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 29;9(1):3510. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05939-2.
In most solid tumors, the Hippo pathway is inactivated through poorly understood mechanisms that result in the activation of the transcriptional regulators, YAP and TAZ. Here, we identify NUAK2 as a YAP/TAZ activator that directly inhibits LATS-mediated phosphorylation of YAP/TAZ and show that NUAK2 induction by YAP/TAZ and AP-1 is required for robust YAP/TAZ signaling. Pharmacological inhibition or loss of NUAK2 reduces the growth of cultured cancer cells and mammary tumors in mice. Moreover, in human patient samples, we show that NUAK2 expression is elevated in aggressive, high-grade bladder cancer and strongly correlates with a YAP/TAZ gene signature. These findings identify a positive feed forward loop in the Hippo pathway that establishes a key role for NUAK2 in enforcing the tumor-promoting activities of YAP/TAZ. Our results thus introduce a new opportunity for cancer therapeutics by delineating NUAK2 as a potential target for re-engaging the Hippo pathway.