Targeting YAP/TAZ-TEAD protein-protein interactions using fragment-based and computational modeling approaches.
ABSTRACT: The Hippo signaling pathway, which is implicated in the regulation of organ size, has emerged as a potential target for the development of cancer therapeutics. YAP, TAZ (transcription co-activators) and TEAD (transcription factor) are the downstream transcriptional machinery and effectors of the pathway. Formation of the YAP/TAZ-TEAD complex leads to transcription of growth-promoting genes. Conversely, disrupting the interactions of the complex decreases cell proliferation. Herein, we screened a 1000-member fragment library using Thermal Shift Assay and identified a hit fragment. We confirmed its binding at the YAP/TAZ-TEAD interface by X-ray crystallography, and showed that it occupies the same hydrophobic pocket as a conserved phenylalanine of YAP/TAZ. This hit fragment serves as a scaffold for the development of compounds that have the potential to disrupt YAP/TAZ-TEAD interactions. Structure-activity relationship studies and computational modeling were also carried out to identify more potent compounds that may bind at this validated druggable binding site.
Project description:The Hippo pathway has emerged as a key signaling pathway that regulates a broad range of biological functions, and dysregulation of the Hippo pathway is a feature of a variety of cancers. Given this, some have suggested that disrupting the interaction of the Hippo core component YAP and its paralog TAZ with transcriptional factor TEAD may be an effective strategy for cancer therapy. However, there are currently no clinically available drugs targeting the YAP/TAZ-TEAD interaction for cancer treatment. To facilitate screens for small molecule compounds that disrupt the YAP-TEAD interaction, we have developed the first ultra-bright NanoLuc biosensor to quantify YAP/TAZ-TEAD protein-protein interaction (PPI) both in living cells and also in vitro using biosensor fusion proteins purified from bacteria. Using this biosensor, we have performed an in vitro high throughput screen (HTS) of small molecule compounds and have identified and validated the drug Celastrol as a novel inhibitor of YAP/TAZ-TEAD interaction. We have also demonstrated that Celastrol can inhibit cancer cell proliferation, transformation, and cell migration. In this study, we describe a new inhibitor of the YAP/TAZ-TEAD interaction warranting further investigation and offer a novel biosensor tool for the discovery of other new Hippo-targeting drugs in future work.
Project description:The Hippo pathway is a tumor suppressor pathway that is implicated in the regulation of organ size. The pathway has three components: the upstream regulatory factors, the kinase core, and the downstream transcriptional machinery, which consists of YAP, TAZ (transcription co-activators) and TEAD (transcription factor). Formation of YAP/TAZ-TEAD complexes leads to the transcription of growth-promoting genes. Herein, we report the crystal structure of TAZ-TEAD4 complex, which reveals two binding modes. The first is similar to the published YAP-TEAD structure. The second is a unique binding mode, whereby two molecules of TAZ bind to and bridge two molecules of TEAD4. We validated the latter using cross-linking and multi-angle light scattering. Using siRNA, we showed that TAZ knockdown leads to a decrease in TEAD4 dimerization. Lastly, results from luciferase assays, using YAP/TAZ transfected or knockdown cells, give support to the non-redundancy of YAP/TAZ co-activators in regulating gene expression in the Hippo pathway.
Project description:The identification of protein-protein interaction disruptors (PPIDs) that disrupt the YAP/TAZ-TEAD interaction has gained considerable momentum. Several studies have shown that YAP/TAZ are no longer oncogenic when their interaction with the TEAD family of transcription factors is disrupted. The transcriptional co-regulator YAP (its homolog TAZ) interact with the surface pockets of TEADs. Peptidomimetic modalities like cystine-dense peptides and YAP cyclic and linear peptides exploit surface pockets (interface 2 and interface 3) on TEADs and function as PPIDs. The TEAD surface might pose a challenge for generating an effective small molecule PPID. Interestingly, TEADs also have a central pocket that is distinct from the surface pockets, and which small molecules leverage exclusively to disrupt the YAP/TAZ-TEAD interaction (allosteric PPIDs). Although small molecules that occupy the central pocket belong to diverse classes, they display certain common features. They are flexible, which allows them to adopt a palmitate-like conformation, and they have a predominant hydrophobic portion that contacts several hydrophobic residues and a small hydrophilic portion that faces the central pocket opening. Despite such progress, more selective PPIDs that also display favorable pharmacokinetic properties and show tolerable toxicity profiles are required to evaluate the feasibility of using these PPIDs for cancer therapy.
Project description:The transcriptional co-regulators YAP and TAZ pair primarily with the TEAD family of transcription factors to elicit a gene expression signature that plays a prominent role in cancer development, progression and metastasis. YAP and TAZ endow cells with various oncogenic traits such that they sustain proliferation, inhibit apoptosis, maintain stemness, respond to mechanical stimuli, engineer metabolism, promote angiogenesis, suppress immune response and develop resistance to therapies. Therefore, inhibiting YAP/TAZ- TEAD is an attractive and viable option for novel cancer therapy. It is exciting to know that many drugs already in the clinic restrict YAP/TAZ activities and several novel YAP/TAZ inhibitors are currently under development. We have classified YAP/TAZ-inhibiting drugs into three groups. Group I drugs act on the upstream regulators that are stimulators of YAP/TAZ activities. Many of the Group I drugs have the potential to be repurposed as YAP/TAZ indirect inhibitors to treat various solid cancers. Group II modalities act directly on YAP/TAZ or TEADs and disrupt their interaction; targeting TEADs has emerged as a novel option to inhibit YAP/TAZ, as TEADs are major mediators of their oncogenic programs. TEADs can also be leveraged on using small molecules to activate YAP/TAZ-dependent gene expression for use in regenerative medicine. Group III drugs focus on targeting one of the oncogenic downstream YAP/TAZ transcriptional target genes. With the right strategy and impetus, it is not far-fetched to expect a repurposed group I drug or a novel group II drug to combat YAP and TAZ in cancers in the near future.
Project description:Angiogenesis, the process by which endothelial cells (ECs) form new blood vessels from existing ones, is intimately linked to the tissue's metabolic milieu and often occurs at nutrient-deficient sites. However, ECs rely on sufficient metabolic resources to support growth and proliferation. How endothelial nutrient acquisition and usage are regulated is unknown. Here we show that these processes are instructed by Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP)/WW domain-containing transcription regulator 1 (WWTR1/TAZ)-transcriptional enhanced associate domain (TEAD): a transcriptional module whose function is highly responsive to changes in the tissue environment. ECs lacking YAP/TAZ or their transcriptional partners, TEAD1, 2 and 4 fail to divide, resulting in stunted vascular growth in mice. Conversely, activation of TAZ, the more abundant paralogue in ECs, boosts proliferation, leading to vascular hyperplasia. We find that YAP/TAZ promote angiogenesis by fuelling nutrient-dependent mTORC1 signalling. By orchestrating the transcription of a repertoire of cell-surface transporters, including the large neutral amino acid transporter SLC7A5, YAP/TAZ-TEAD stimulate the import of amino acids and other essential nutrients, thereby enabling mTORC1 activation. Dissociating mTORC1 from these nutrient inputs-elicited by the loss of Rag GTPases-inhibits mTORC1 activity and prevents YAP/TAZ-dependent vascular growth. Together, these findings define a pivotal role for YAP/TAZ-TEAD in controlling endothelial mTORC1 and illustrate the essentiality of coordinated nutrient fluxes in the vasculature.
Project description:Sperm-associated antigen 5 (SPAG5) is an important driver of the cell mitotic spindle required for chromosome segregation and progression into anaphase. SPAG5 has been identified as an important proliferation marker and chemotherapy-sensitivity predictor, especially in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer subtypes. Here, we report that SPAG5 is a direct target of miR-10b-3p, and its aberrantly high expression associates with poor disease-free survival in two large cohorts of breast cancer patients. SPAG5 depletion strongly impaired cancer cell cycle progression, proliferation, and migration. Interestingly, high expression of SPAG5 pairs with a YAP/TAZ-activated signature in breast cancer patients. Reassuringly, the depletion of YAP, TAZ, and TEAD strongly reduced SPAG5 expression and diminished its oncogenic effects. YAP, TAZ coactivators, and TEAD transcription factors are key components of the Hippo signaling pathway involved in tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. Furthermore, we report that SPAG5 is a direct transcriptional target of TEAD/YAP/TAZ, and pharmacological targeting of YAP and TAZ severely reduces SPAG5 expression. Collectively, our data uncover an oncogenic feedback loop, comprising miR-10b-3p, SPAG5, and YAP/TAZ/TEAD, which fuels the aberrant proliferation of breast cancer.
Project description:YAP/TAZ are nuclear effectors of the Hippo pathway regulating organ growth and tumorigenesis. Yet, their function as transcriptional regulators remains underinvestigated. By ChIP-seq analyses in breast cancer cells, we discovered that the YAP/TAZ transcriptional response is pervasively mediated by a dual element: TEAD factors, through which YAP/TAZ bind to DNA, co-occupying chromatin with activator protein-1 (AP-1, dimer of JUN and FOS proteins) at composite cis-regulatory elements harbouring both TEAD and AP-1 motifs. YAP/TAZ/TEAD and AP-1 form a complex that synergistically activates target genes directly involved in the control of S-phase entry and mitosis. This control occurs almost exclusively from distal enhancers that contact target promoters through chromatin looping. YAP/TAZ-induced oncogenic growth is strongly enhanced by gain of AP-1 and severely blunted by its loss. Conversely, AP-1-promoted skin tumorigenesis is prevented in YAP/TAZ conditional knockout mice. This work highlights a new layer of signalling integration, feeding on YAP/TAZ function at the chromatin level.
Project description:To investigate the role of Hippo pathway signaling during vertebrate development transgenic zebrafish lines were generated and validated to dynamically monitor and manipulate Yap/Taz-Tead activity. Spatial and temporal analysis of Yap/Taz-Tead activity suggested the importance of Hippo signaling during cardiac precursor migration and other developmental processes. When the transcriptional co-activators, Yap and Taz were restricted from interacting with DNA-binding Tead transcription factors through expression of a dominant negative transgene, cardiac precursors failed to migrate completely to the midline resulting in strong cardia bifida. Yap/Taz-Tead activity reporters also allowed us to investigate upstream and downstream factors known to regulate Hippo signaling output in Drosophila. While Crumbs mutations in Drosophila eye disc epithelia increase nuclear translocation and activity of Yorkie (the fly homolog of Yap/Taz), zebrafish crb2a mutants lacked nuclear Yap positive cells and down-regulated Yap/Taz-Tead activity reporters in the eye epithelia, despite the loss of apical-basal cell polarity in those cells. However, as an example of evolutionary conservation, the Tondu-domain containing protein Vestigial-like 4b (Vgll4b) was found to down-regulate endogenous Yap/Taz-Tead activity in the retinal pigment epithelium, similar to Drosophila Tgi in imaginal discs. In conclusion, the Yap/Taz-Tead activity reporters revealed the dynamics of Yap/Taz-Tead signaling and novel insights into Hippo pathway regulation for vertebrates. These studies highlight the utility of this transgenic tool-suite for ongoing analysis into the mechanisms of Hippo pathway regulation and the consequences of signaling output.
Project description:The transcriptional co-activators YAP and TAZ are key regulators of organ size and tissue homeostasis, and their dysregulation contributes to human cancer. Here, we discover YAP/TAZ as bona fide downstream effectors of the alternative Wnt signaling pathway. Wnt5a/b and Wnt3a induce YAP/TAZ activation independent of canonical Wnt/?-catenin signaling. Mechanistically, we delineate the "alternative Wnt-YAP/TAZ signaling axis" that consists of Wnt-FZD/ROR-G?12/13-Rho GTPases-Lats1/2 to promote YAP/TAZ activation and TEAD-mediated transcription. YAP/TAZ mediate the biological functions of alternative Wnt signaling, including gene expression, osteogenic differentiation, cell migration, and antagonism of Wnt/?-catenin signaling. Together, our work establishes YAP/TAZ as critical mediators of alternative Wnt signaling.
Project description:Intrinsically disordered protein YAP (yes-associated protein) interacts with TEADs transcriptional factors family (transcriptional enhancer associated domain) creating three interfaces. Interface 3, between the Ω-loop of YAP and a shallow pocket of TEAD was identified as the most important TEAD zone for YAP-TEAD interaction. Using the first X-ray structure of the hYAP50?71-hTEAD1209?426 complex (PDB 3KYS) published in 2010, a protein-protein interaction inhibitors-enriched library (175,000 chemical compounds) was screened against this hydrophobic pocket of TEAD. Four different chemical families have been identified and evaluated using biophysical techniques (thermal shift assay, microscale thermophoresis) and in cellulo assays (luciferase activity in transfected HEK293 cells, RTqPCR in MDA-MB231 cells). A first promising hit with micromolar inhibition in the luciferase gene reporter assay was discovered. This hit also decreased mRNA levels of TEAD target genes.