YAP/TAZ are Activated by Mechanical and Hormonal Stimuli in Myometrium and Exhibit Increased Baseline Activation in Uterine Fibroids

MacKenzie K.P. Purdy, Merrick Ducharme, Andrew J. Haak, Jovanka Ravix, Qi Tan, Delphine Sicard, Y. S. Prakash, Daniel J. Tschumperlin, Elizabeth A. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Uterine fibroids (UFs) are benign myometrial neoplasms. The mechanical environment activates signaling through the Hippo pathway effectors Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding domain (TAZ) in other fibrotic disorders. Here, we assess the differences in YAP/TAZ responsiveness to signals in UF compared with myometrium (Myo). Matched samples of UF and Myo were collected. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to determine in situ stiffness. Cells were plated sparsely on hydrogels or at confluence. Ten nanomolars of estradiol (E2) and 100 nM progesterone (P4) were used. Immunostaining for YAP/TAZ and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins was performed. Cells were incubated with control or YAP1 (YAP)/WWTR1 (TAZ) small interfering RNA (siRNA). Real time qPCR was completed for connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). Cells were treated with verteporfin (a YAP inhibitor) or Y27632 (a ROCK inhibitor), and ECM gene expression was analyzed. Paired t test and Wilcoxon sign-rank test were used. AFM-measured tissue stiffness and YAP/TAZ nuclear localization in situ and in confluent cells were higher in UF compared with Myo (p < 0.05). Decreasing substrate stiffness reduced YAP/TAZ nuclear localization for both Myo and UF (p = 0.05). Stimulating cells with E2 or P4 increased YAP/TAZ nuclear localization, but only in Myo (p = 0.01). UFs had increased FN, COLI, and COLIII deposition. Following siRNA targeting, CTGF was found to be statistically decreased. Verteporfin treatment reduced cell survival and reduced FN deposition. Treatment with Y27632 demonstrated better cell tolerance and a reduction in ECM deposition. The mechanosensitive pathway may be linked to YAP/TAZ function and involved in transducing fibroid growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1085
Number of pages12
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Society for Reproductive Investigation.


  • Contact inhibition
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Fibroid
  • Leiomyoma
  • Myometrium


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