Crosstalk between Nrf2 and YAP contributes to maintaining the antioxidant potential and chemoresistance in bladder cancer

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Redox adaptation plays an important role in cancer cells drug resistance. The antioxidant response is principally mediated by the transcription factor Nrf2, that induces the transcriptional activation of several genes involved in GSH synthesis, chemoresistance, and cytoprotection. YAP is emerging as a key mediator of chemoresistance in a variety of cancers, but its role in controlling the antioxidant status of the cells is yet elusive. Here, we show that impairing YAP protein expression reduced GSH content and Nrf2 protein and mRNA expression in bladder cancer cells. Moreover, in YAP knocked down cells the expression of FOXM1, a transcription factor involved in Nrf2 transcription, was down-regulated and the silencing of FOXM1 reduced Nrf2 expression. On the other hand, the silencing of Nrf2, as well as the depletion of GSH by BSO treatment, inhibited YAP expression, suggesting that cross-talk exists between YAP and Nrf2 proteins. Importantly, we found that silencing either YAP or Nrf2 enhanced sensitivity of bladder cancer cells to cytotoxic agents and reduced their migration. Furthermore, the inhibition of both YAP and Nrf2 expressions significantly increased cytotoxic drug sensitivity and synergistically reduced the migration of chemoresistant bladder cancer cells. These findings provide a rationale for targeting these transcriptional regulators in patients with chemoresistant bladder cancer, expressing high YAP and bearing a proficient antioxidant system.Graphical abstractHighlightsChemoresistance in bladder cancer increases GSH/GSSG ratio, YAP and Nrf2 expression.Silencing of YAP reduces the GSH/GSSG ratio, Nrf2 and FoxM1 expression.Nrf2 silencing reduces YAP expression.Crosstalk between YAP and Nrf2 could involve FOXM1 and GSH level.Silencing of YAP and/or Nrf2 reduces chemoresistance and cell motility.

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