Yap activation in irradiated parotid salivary glands is regulated by ROCK activity

Wen Yu Wong, Kristy Gilman, Kirsten H. Limesand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Radiotherapy plays a major role in the curative treatment of head and neck cancer, either as a single modality therapy, or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy, or both. Despite advances to limit radiation-induced side-effects, the major salivary glands are often affected. This frequently leads to hyposalivation which causes an increased risk for xerostomia, dental caries, mucositis, and malnutrition culminating in a significant impact on patients' quality of life. Previous research demonstrated that loss of salivary function is associated with a decrease in polarity regulators and an increase in nuclear Yap localization in a putative stem and progenitor cell (SPC) population. Yap activation has been shown to be essential for regeneration in intestinal injury models; however, the highest levels of nuclear Yap are observed in irradiated salivary SPCs that do not regenerate the gland. Thus, elucidating the inputs that regulate nuclear Yap localization and determining the role that Yap plays within the entire tissue following radiation damage and during regeneration is critical. In this study, we demonstrate that radiation treatment increases nuclear Yap localization in acinar cells and Yap-regulated genes in parotid salivary tissues. Conversely, administration of insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF1), known to restore salivary function in mouse models, reduces nuclear Yap localization and Yap transcriptional targets to levels similar to untreated tissues. Activation of Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) using calpeptin results in increased Yap-regulated genes in primary acinar cells while inhibition of ROCK activity (Y-27632) leads to decreased Yap transcriptional targets. These results suggest that Yap activity is dependent on ROCK activity and provides new mechanistic insights into the regulation of radiation-induced hyposalivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0232921
JournalPloS one
Issue number11 November
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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