Targeting YAP/TAZ mechanosignaling to ameliorate stiffness-induced Schlemm's canal cell pathobiology

Haiyan Li, Megan Kuhn, Ruth A. Kelly, Ayushi Singh, Kavipriya Kovai Palanivel, Izzy Salama, Michael L. De Ieso, W. Daniel Stamer, Preethi S. Ganapathy, Samuel Herberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pathological alterations in the biomechanical properties of the Schlemm's canal (SC) inner wall endothelium and its immediate vicinity are strongly associated with ocular hypertension in glaucoma due to decreased outflow facility. Specifically, the underlying trabecular meshwork is substantially stiffer in glaucomatous eyes compared with that from normal eyes. This raises the possibility of a critical involvement of mechanotransduction processes in driving SC cell dysfunction. Yes-associated protein (YAP) has emerged as a key contributor to glaucoma pathogenesis. However, the molecular underpinnings of SC cell mechanosignaling via YAP and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) in response to glaucomatous extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffening are not well understood. Using a novel biopolymer hydrogel that facilitates dynamic and reversible stiffness tuning, we investigated how ECM stiffening modulates YAP/TAZ activity in primary human SC cells, and whether disruption of YAP/TAZ mechanosignaling attenuates SC cell pathobiology and increases ex vivo outflow facility. We demonstrated that ECM stiffening drives pathologic YAP/TAZ activation and cytoskeletal reorganization in SC cells, which was fully reversible by matrix softening in a distinct time-dependent manner. Furthermore, we showed that pharmacologic or genetic disruption of YAP/TAZ mechanosignaling abrogates stiffness-induced SC cell dysfunction involving altered cytoskeletal and ECM remodeling. Finally, we found that perfusion of the clinically used, small molecule YAP/TAZ inhibitor verteporfin (without light activation) increases ex vivo outflow facility in normal mouse eyes. Collectively, our data provide new evidence for a pathologic role of aberrant YAP/TAZ mechanosignaling in SC cell dysfunction and suggest that YAP/TAZ inhibition has therapeutic value for treating ocular hypertension in glaucoma.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Pathologically altered biomechanical properties of the Schlemm's canal (SC) inner wall microenvironment were recently validated as the cause for increased outflow resistance in ocular hypertensive glaucoma. However, the involvement of specific mechanotransduction pathways in these disease processes is largely unclear. Here, we demonstrate that Yes-associated protein (YAP)/transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) are central regulators of glaucoma-like SC cell dysfunction in response to extracellular matrix stiffening and that targeted disruption of YAP/TAZ mechanosignaling attenuates SC cell pathobiology and enhances outflow function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C513-C528
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Cell physiology
Volume326
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ECM stiffening
  • glaucoma
  • hydrogel
  • mechanotransduction
  • verteporfin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology

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