A role for Hippo/YAP-signaling in FGF-induced lens epithelial cell proliferation and fibre differentiation


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Abstract

Recent studies indicate an important role for the transcriptional co-activator Yes-associated protein (YAP), and its regulatory pathway Hippo, in controlling cell growth and fate during lens development; however, the exogenous factors that promote this pathway are yet to be identified. Given that fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-signaling is an established regulator of lens cell behavior, the current study investigates the relationship between this pathway and Hippo/YAP-signaling during lens cell proliferation and fibre differentiation. Rat lens epithelial explants were cultured with FGF2 to induce epithelial cell proliferation or fibre differentiation. Immunolabeling methods were used to detect the expression of Hippo-signaling components, Total and Phosphorylated YAP, as well as fibre cell markers, Prox-1 and β-crystallin. FGF-induced lens cell proliferation was associated with a strong nuclear localisation of Total-YAP and low-level immuno-staining for phosphorylated-YAP. FGF-induced lens fibre differentiation was associated with a significant increase in cytoplasmic phosphorylated YAP (inactive state) and enhanced expression of core Hippo-signaling components. Inhibition of YAP with Verteporfin suppressed FGF-induced lens cell proliferation and ablated cell elongation during lens fibre differentiation. Inhibition of either FGFR- or MEK/ERK-signaling suppressed FGF-promoted YAP nuclear translocation. Here we propose that FGF promotes Hippo/YAP-signaling during lens cell proliferation and differentiation, with FGF-induced nuclear-YAP expression playing an essential role in promoting the proliferation of lens epithelial cells. An FGF-induced switch from proliferation to differentiation, hence regulation of lens growth, may play a key role in mediating Hippo suppression of YAP transcriptional activity.HighlightsFGF influences YAP localisation and functional status in lens cells.FGF up-regulates Hippo-signaling components during lens fibre differentiation.Inhibition of YAP activity suppresses FGF-induced lens cell proliferation.Inhibition of FGF receptor and ERK1/2-activation suppresses nuclear-YAP expression.

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