beta-Catenin and Yes-Associated Protein 1 Cooperate in Hepatoblastoma Pathogenesis.

Hepatoblastoma (HB), the most common pediatric primary liver neoplasm, shows nuclear localization of beta-catenin and yes-associated protein 1 (YAP1) in almost 80% of the cases. Co-expression of constitutively active S127A-YAP1 and DeltaN90 deletion-mutant beta-catenin (YAP1-DeltaN90-beta-catenin) causes HB in mice. Because heterogeneity in downstream signaling is being identified owing to mutational differences even in the beta-catenin gene alone, we investigated if co-expression of point mutants of beta-catenin (S33Y or S45Y) with S127A-YAP1 led to similar tumors as YAP1-DeltaN90-beta-catenin. Co-expression of S33Y/S45Y-beta-catenin and S127A-YAP1 led to activation of Yap and Wnt signaling and development of HB, with 100% mortality by 13 to 14 weeks. Co-expression with YAP1-S45Y/S33Y-beta-catenin of the dominant-negative T-cell factor 4 or dominant-negative transcriptional enhanced associate domain 2, the respective surrogate transcription factors, prevented HB development. Although histologically similar, HB in YAP1-S45Y/S33Y-beta-catenin, unlike YAP1-DeltaN90-beta-catenin HB, was glutamine synthetase (GS) positive. However, both DeltaN90-beta-catenin and point-mutant beta-catenin comparably induced GS-luciferase reporter in vitro. Finally, using a previously reported 16-gene signature, it was shown that YAP1-DeltaN90-beta-catenin HB tumors exhibited genetic similarities with more proliferative, less differentiated, GS-negative HB patient tumors, whereas YAP1-S33Y/S45Y-beta-catenin HB exhibited heterogeneity and clustered with both well-differentiated GS-positive and proliferative GS-negative patient tumors. Thus, we demonstrate that beta-catenin point mutants can also collaborate with YAP1 in HB development, albeit with a distinct molecular profile from the deletion mutant, which may have implications in both biology and therapy.

Am J Pathol. 2019 May;189(5):1091-1104. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2019.02.002. Epub 2019 Feb 19.
Q. Min, L. Molina, J. Li, A. O. Adebayo Michael, J. O. Russell, M. E. Preziosi, S. Singh, M. Poddar, Madlen Matz-Soja, S. Ranganathan, A. W. Bell, R. Gebhardt, F. Gaunitz, J. Yu, J. Tao, S. P. Monga
Date Published:
Am J Pathol