Research ArticleCancer

Ski regulates Hippo and TAZ signaling to suppress breast cancer progression

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Science Signaling  10 Feb 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 363, pp. ra14
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005735

Keeping cancers from becoming Hippo sized

Activation of the kinases in the Hippo pathway triggers the phosphorylation, cystolic sequestration, and degradation of the transcriptional coactivator TAZ, preventing the activation of genes that promote cell proliferation and survival. Ski has both pro-oncogenic and anti-oncogenic properties. By investigating the tumor suppressor side of Ski, Rashidian et al. found that Ski inhibited TAZ in breast cancer cells. In the cytosol, Ski enhanced the phosphorylation of TAZ through the Hippo pathway; in the nucleus, Ski recruited a transcriptional co-repressor to TAZ. Thus, Ski may limit breast cancer progression by inhibiting TAZ through Hippo pathway–dependent and Hippo pathway–independent mechanisms.


Ski, the transforming protein of the avian Sloan-Kettering retrovirus, inhibits transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β)/Smad signaling and displays both pro-oncogenic and anti-oncogenic activities in human cancer. Inhibition of TGF-β signaling is likely responsible for the pro-oncogenic activity of Ski. We investigated the mechanism(s) underlying the tumor suppressor activity of Ski and found that Ski suppressed the activity of the Hippo signaling effectors TAZ and YAP to inhibit breast cancer progression. TAZ and YAP are transcriptional coactivators that can contribute to cancer by promoting proliferation, tumorigenesis, and cancer stem cell expansion. Hippo signaling activates the the Lats family of kinases, which phosphorylate TAZ and YAP, resulting in cytoplasmic retention and degradation and inhibition of their transcriptional activity. We showed that Ski interacted with multiple components of the Hippo pathway to facilitate activation of Lats2, resulting in increased phosphorylation and subsequent degradation of TAZ. Ski also promoted the degradation of a constitutively active TAZ mutant that is not phosphorylated by Lats, suggesting the existence of a Lats2-independent degradation pathway. Finally, we showed that Ski repressed the transcriptional activity of TAZ by binding to the TAZ partner TEAD and recruiting the transcriptional co-repressor NCoR1 to the TEAD-TAZ complex. Ski effectively reversed transformation and epithelial-to-mesenchyme transition in cultured breast cancer cells and metastasis in TAZ-expressing xenografted tumors. Thus, Ski inhibited the function of TAZ through multiple mechanisms in human cancer cells.

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