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The Clinicopathological Significance of YAP/TAZ Expression in Hepatocellular Carcinoma with Relation to Hypoxia and Stemness

 Hyunjin Park  ;  Yangkyu Lee  ;  Kiryang Lee  ;  Hyejung Lee  ;  Jeong Eun Yoo  ;  Soomin Ahn  ;  Young Nyun Park  ;  Haeryoung Kim 
 PATHOLOGY & ONCOLOGY RESEARCH, Vol.27 : 604600, 2021-03 
Journal Title
Issue Date
hepatocellular carcinoma ; Hippo pathway ; hypoxia ; stemness ; immunohistochemistry
Background/Aims: Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional co-activator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) activation has been implicated in hepatocarcinogenesis and hepatic progenitor cell differentiation, and hypoxia has been shown to induce nuclear translocation of YAP in cancer cells. Here, we aimed to investigate the relationship between hypoxia, YAP and TAZ expression and stemness-related marker expression in human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and its clinical implications.

Methods: Immunohistochemical stains were performed on tissue microarrays from 305 surgically resected HCCs, and the expression status of YAP and TAZ were correlated with CAIX, stemness markers (K19, EpCAM) and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related markers (uPAR, ezrin). The clinicopathological significance of YAP/TAZ expression was analyzed with relation to CAIX expression status.

Results: YAP and TAZ expression were seen in 13.4 and 4.3% of HCCs, respectively. YAP/TAZ-positive HCCs frequently demonstrated higher serum AFP levels, microvascular invasion, advanced tumor stage, increased proliferative activity and expression of stemness- and EMT-related markers, CAIX, p53 and Smad2/3 (p < 0.05, all). Interestingly, YAP/TAZ-positivity was associated with microvascular invasion, higher serum AFP levels, stemness and EMT-related marker expression only in tumors expressing CAIX (p < 0.05, all), while these associations were not seen in CAIX-negative HCCs.

Conclusions: YAP/TAZ expression is associated with vascular invasion, stemness and EMT in HCCs with hypoxia marker expression. The effect of Hippo signaling pathway deregulation in HCC may depend on the presence or absence of a hypoxic microenvironment, and hypoxia marker expression status should be taken into account when considering the use of YAP/TAZ as markers of aggressive biologic behavior in HCC.
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1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > BioMedical Science Institute (의생명과학부) > 1. Journal Papers
1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > Dept. of Pathology (병리학교실) > 1. Journal Papers
Yonsei Authors
Park, Young Nyun(박영년) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0357-7967
Park, Hyunjin(박현진)
Yoo, Jeong Eun(유정은) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9990-279X
Lee, Yangkyu(이양규)
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