Combined control of the fibroblast contractile program by YAP and TAZ

Patrick A. Link, Kyoung Moo Choi, Ana M. Diaz Espinosa, Dakota L. Jones, Ashley Y. Gao, Andrew J. Haak, Daniel J. Tschumperlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) are transcription cofactors implicated in the contractile and profibrotic activation of fibroblasts. Fibroblast contractile function is important in alveologenesis and in lung wound healing and fibrosis. As paralogs, YAP and TAZ may have independent or redundant roles in regulating transcriptional programs and contractile function. Using IMR-90 lung fibroblasts, microarray analysis, and traction microscopy, we tested whether independent YAP or TAZ knockdown alone was sufficient to limit transcriptional activation and contraction in vitro. Our results demonstrate limited effects of knockdown of either YAP or TAZ alone, with more robust transcriptional and functional effects observed with combined knockdown, consistent with cooperation or redundancy of YAP and TAZ in transforming growth factor b1 (TGFb1)-induced fibroblast activation and contractile force generation. The transcriptional responses to combined YAP/TAZ knockdown were focused on a relatively small subset of genes with prominent overrepresentation of genes implicated in contraction and migration. To explore potential disease relevance of our findings, we tested primary human lung fibroblasts isolated from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and confirmed that YAP and TAZ combined knockdown reduced the expression of three cytoskeletal genes, ACTA2, CNN1, and TAGLN. We then compared the contribution of these genes, along with YAP and TAZ, to contractile function. Combined knockdown targeting YAP/TAZ was more effective than targeting any of the individual cytoskeletal genes in reducing contractile function. Together, our results demonstrate that YAP and TAZ combine to regulate a multigene program that is essential to fibroblast contractile function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L23-L32
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Contraction
  • Fibroblast
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Mechanotransduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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