Publication — IRIC
Signaling by the tyrosine kinase Yes promotes liver cancer development.
Most patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are diagnosed at a late stage and have few therapeutic options and a poor prognosis. This is due to the lack of clearly defined underlying mechanisms or a dominant oncogene that can be targeted pharmacologically, unlike in other cancer types. Here, we report the identification of a previously uncharacterized oncogenic signaling pathway in HCC that is mediated by the tyrosine kinase Yes. Using genetic and pharmacological interventions in cellular and mouse models of HCC, we showed that Yes activity was necessary for HCC cell proliferation. Transgenic expression of activated Yes in mouse hepatocytes was sufficient to induce liver tumorigenesis. Yes phosphorylated the transcriptional coactivators YAP and TAZ (YAP/TAZ), promoting their nuclear accumulation and transcriptional activity in HCC cells and liver tumors. We also showed that YAP/TAZ were effectors of the Yes-dependent oncogenic transformation of hepatocytes. Src family kinase activation correlated with the tyrosine phosphorylation and nuclear localization of YAP in human HCC and was associated with increased tumor burden in mice. Specifically, high Yes activity predicted shorter overall survival in patients with HCC. Thus, our findings identify Yes as a potential therapeutic target in HCC.