LKB1 tumor suppressor regulates AMP kinase/mTOR-independent cell growth and proliferation via the phosphorylation of Yap

H. B. Nguyen, J. T. Babcock, C. D. Wells, L. A. Quilliam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations


The liver kinase B1 (LKB1) tumor suppressor inhibits cell growth through its regulation of cellular metabolism and apical-basal polarity. The best understood mechanism whereby LKB1 limits cell growth is through activation of the AMP-activated-protein-kinase/mammalian-target-of-rapamycin (AMPK/mTOR) pathway to control metabolism. As LKB1 is also required for polarized epithelial cells to resist hyperplasia, it is anticipated to function through additional mechanisms. Recently, Yes-associated protein (Yap) has emerged as a transcriptional co-activator that modulates tissue homeostasis in response to cell-cell contact. Thus this study examined a possible connection between Yap and LKB1. Restoration of LKB1 expression in HeLa cells, which lack this tumor suppressor, or short-hairpin RNA knockdown of LKB1 in NTERT immortalized keratinocytes, demonstrated that LKB1 promotes Yap phosphorylation, nuclear exclusion and proteasomal degradation. The ability of phosphorylation-defective Yap mutants to rescue LKB1 phenotypes, such as reduced cell proliferation and cell size, suggest that Yap inhibition contributes to LKB1 tumor suppressor function(s). However, failure of Lats1/2 knockdown to suppress LKB1-mediated Yap regulation suggested that LKB1 signals to Yap via a non-canonical pathway. Additionally, LKB1 inhibited Yap independently of either AMPK or mTOR activation. These findings reveal a novel mechanism whereby LKB1 may restrict cancer cell growth via the inhibition of Yap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4100-4109
Number of pages10
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 29 2013



  • growth
  • Hippo
  • LKB1
  • polarity
  • Yap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics

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