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J Exp Med. 2012 Mar 12;209(3):479-94. doi: 10.1084/jem.20111653. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

TGF-β synergizes with defects in the Hippo pathway to stimulate human malignant mesothelioma growth.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Oncology, Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8681, Japan.


Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an incurable malignancy that is caused by exposure to asbestos and is accompanied by severe fibrosis. Because MM is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage and clinical identification of early lesions is difficult, its molecular pathogenesis has not been completely elucidated. Nearly 75% of MM cases have inactivating mutations in the NF2 (neurofibromatosis type 2; Merlin) gene or in downstream signaling molecules of the Hippo signaling cascade, which negatively regulates the transcription factor Yes-associated protein (YAP). In this study, we demonstrate a functional interaction between the Hippo and TGF-β pathways in regulating connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). Expression of CTGF in MM cells was induced by the formation of a YAP-TEAD4-Smad3-p300 complex on the CTGF promoter. Knocking down CTGF expression in MM cells prolonged the survival of xenografted mice, and a significant association was seen between CTGF expression and extracellular matrix deposition in MM xenografts and in patient tissue specimens. We further suggest that CTGF may influence the malignancy of mesothelioma because of the different histological expression patterns observed in human MM tissues. These data suggest that CTGF is an important modulator of MM growth and pathology and represents a novel therapeutic target for this disease.

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