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Dev Cell. 2010 Dec 14;19(6):831-44. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2010.11.012.

The Crumbs complex couples cell density sensing to Hippo-dependent control of the TGF-β-SMAD pathway.

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Center for Systems Biology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.


The Hippo pathway senses cell density information to control tissue growth by regulating the localization of the transcriptional regulators TAZ and YAP (TAZ/YAP). TAZ/YAP also regulate TGF-β-SMAD signaling, but whether this role is linked to cell density sensing is unknown. Here we demonstrate that TAZ/YAP dictate the localization of active SMAD complexes in response to cell density-mediated formation of polarity complexes. In high-density cell cultures, the Hippo pathway drives cytoplasmic localization of TAZ/YAP, which sequesters SMAD complexes, thereby suppressing TGF-β signaling. We show that during mouse embryogenesis, this is reflected by differences in TAZ/YAP localization, which define regions of active SMAD2/3 complexes. Interfering with TAZ/YAP phosphorylation drives nuclear accumulation of TAZ/YAP and SMAD2/3. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the Crumbs polarity complex interacts with TAZ/YAP, which relays cell density information by promoting TAZ/YAP phosphorylation, cytoplasmic retention, and suppressed TGF-β signaling. Accordingly, disruption of the Crumbs complex enhances TGF-β signaling and predisposes cells to TGF-β-mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions.

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