The Hippo pathway effector Yes-associated protein (YAP) regulates liver size by promoting cell proliferation and inhibiting apoptosis. However, recent in vivo studies suggest that YAP has important cellular functions other than controlling proliferation and apoptosis. Transgenic YAP expression in mouse hepatocytes results in severe jaundice. A possible explanation for the jaundice could be defects in adherens junctions that prevent bile from leaking into the blood stream. Indeed, immunostaining of E-cadherin and electron microscopic examination of bile canaliculi of Yap transgenic livers revealed abnormal adherens junction structures. Using primary hepatocytes from Yap transgenic livers and Yap knockout livers, we found that YAP antagonizes E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell junction assembly by regulating the cellular actin architecture, including its mechanical properties (elasticity and cortical tension). Mechanistically, we found that YAP promoted contractile actin structure formation by upregulating nonmuscle myosin light chain expression and cellular ATP generation. Thus, by modulating actomyosin organization, YAP may influence many actomyosin-dependent cellular characteristics, including adhesion, membrane protrusion, spreading, morphology, and cortical tension and elasticity, which in turn determine cell differentiation and tissue morphogenesis.
- actin cytoskeleton
- adherens junctions
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