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TEA Domain Transcription Factor 4 Is the Major Mediator of Yes-Associated Protein Oncogenic Activity in Mouse and Human Hepatoblastoma


Hepatoblastoma (HB) is the most common type of pediatric liver cancer. Activation of yes-associated protein (YAP) has been implicated in HB molecular pathogenesis. The transcriptional co-activator Yap regulates downstream gene expression through interaction with the TEA domain (TEAD) proteins. Nonetheless, YAP also displays functions that are independent of its transcriptional activity. The underlying molecular mechanisms by which Yap promotes HB development remain elusive. In the current study, we demonstrated that blocking TEAD function via the dominant-negative form of TEAD2 abolishes Yap-driven HB formation in mice and restrains human HB growth in vitro. When TEAD2 DNA-binding domain was fused with virus protein 16 transcriptional activation domain, it synergized with activated β-catenin to promote HB formation in vivo. Among TEAD genes, silencing of TEAD4 consistently inhibited tumor growth and Yap target gene expression in HB cell lines. Furthermore, TEAD4 mRNA expression was significantly higher in human HB lesions when compared with corresponding nontumorous liver tissues. Human HB specimens also exhibited strong nuclear immunoreactivity for TEAD4. Altogether, data demonstrate that TEAD-mediated transcriptional activity is both sufficient and necessary for Yap-driven HB development. TEAD4 is the major TEAD isoform and Yap partner in human HB. Targeting TEAD4 may represent an effective treatment option for human HB.

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