COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Role of substratum stiffness in modulating genes associated with extracellular matrix and mechanotransducers YAP and TAZ

Vijay Krishna Raghunathan, Joshua T Morgan, Britta Dreier, Christopher M Reilly, Sara M Thomasy, Joshua A Wood, Irene Ly, Binh C Tuyen, Marissa Hughbanks, Christopher J Murphy, Paul Russell
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 2013 January 14, 54 (1): 378-86
23258147

PURPOSE: Primary open-angle glaucoma is characterized by increased resistance to aqueous humor outflow and a stiffer human trabecular meshwork (HTM). Two Yorkie homologues, Yes-associated protein (YAP) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif, encoded by WWTR1 (TAZ), are mechanotransducers of the extracellular-microenvironment and coactivators of transcription. Here, we explore how substratum stiffness modulates the YAP/TAZ pathway and extracellular matrix genes in HTM cells and how this may be play a role in the onset and progression of glaucoma.

METHODS: HTM cells from normal donors were cultured on hydrogels mimicking the stiffness of normal (5 kPa) and glaucomatous (75 kPa) HTM. Changes in expression of YAP/TAZ related genes and steroid responsiveness were determined. Additionally, transglutaminase-2 expression was determined after YAP silencing.

RESULTS: YAP and TAZ are both expressed in human trabecular meshwork cells. In vitro, YAP and TAZ were inversely regulated by substratum stiffness. YAP and 14-3-3σ were downregulated to different extents on stiffer substrates; TAZ, tissue transglutaminase (TGM2), and soluble frizzled-related protein-1 (sFRP-1) were significantly upregulated. CTGF expression appeared to be altered differentially by both YAP and TAZ. Myocilin and angiopoietin-like 7 expression in response to dexamethasone was more pronounced on stiffer substrates. We demonstrated a direct effect by YAP on TGM2 when YAP was silenced by small interfering RNA.

CONCLUSIONS: The expression of YAP/TAZ and ECM-related-genes is impacted on physiologically relevant substrates. YAP was upregulated in cells on softer substrates. Stiffer substrates resulted in upregulation of canonical Wnt modulators, TAZ and sFRP-1, and thus may influence the progression of glaucoma. These results demonstrate the importance of YAP/TAZ in the HTM and suggest their role in glaucoma.

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