The Hippo pathway promotes cell survival in response to chemical stress

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Cellular stress defense mechanisms have evolved to maintain homeostasis in response to a broad variety of environmental challenges. Stress signaling pathways activate multiple cellular programs that range from the activation of survival pathways to the initiation of cell death when cells are damaged beyond repair. To identify novel players acting in stress response pathways, we conducted a cell culture RNA interference (RNAi) screen using caffeine as a xenobiotic stress-inducing agent, as this compound is a well-established inducer of detoxification response pathways. Specifically, we examined how caffeine affects cell survival when Drosophila kinases and phosphatases were depleted via RNAi. Using this approach, we identified and validated 10 kinases and 4 phosphatases that are essential for cell survival under caffeine-induced stress both in cell culture and living flies. Remarkably, our screen yielded an enrichment of Hippo pathway components, indicating that this pathway regulates cellular stress responses. Indeed, we show that the Hippo pathway acts as a potent repressor of stress-induced cell death. Further, we demonstrate that Hippo activation is necessary to inhibit a pro-apoptotic program triggered by the interaction of the transcriptional co-activator Yki with the transcription factor p53 in response to a range of stress stimuli. Our in vitro and in vivo loss-of-function data therefore implicate Hippo signaling in the transduction of cellular survival signals in response to chemical stress.

Journal details

Volume 22
Issue number 9
Pages 1526-1539
Available online
Publication date