Miesfeld, J.B., Link, B.A. (2014) Establishment of transgenic lines to monitor and manipulate Yap/Taz-Tead activity in zebrafish reveals both evolutionarily conserved and divergent functions of the Hippo pathway. Mechanisms of Development. 133:177-88.
To investigate the role of Hippo pathway signaling during vertebrate development transgenic zebrafish lines were generated and validated to dynamically monitor and manipulate Yap/Taz-Tead activity. Spatial and temporal analysis of Yap/Taz-Tead activity suggested the importance of Hippo signaling during cardiac precursor migration and other developmental processes. When the transcriptional co-activators, Yap and Taz were restricted from interacting with DNA-binding Tead transcription factors through expression of a dominant negative transgene, cardiac precursors failed to migrate completely to the midline resulting in strong cardia bifida. Yap/Taz-Tead activity reporters also allowed us to investigate upstream and downstream factors known to regulate Hippo signaling output in Drosophila. While Crumbs mutations in Drosophila eye disc epithelia increase nuclear translocation and activity of Yorkie (the fly homolog of Yap/Taz), zebrafish crb2a mutants lacked nuclear Yap positive cells and down-regulated Yap/Taz-Tead activity reporters in the eye epithelia, despite the loss of apical-basal cell polarity in those cells. However, as an example of evolutionary conservation, the Tondu-domain containing protein Vestigial-like 4b (Vgll4b) was found to down-regulate endogenous Yap/Taz-Tead activity in the retinal pigment epithelium, similar to Drosophila Tgi in imaginal discs. In conclusion, the Yap/Taz-Tead activity reporters revealed the dynamics of Yap/Taz-Tead signaling and novel insights into Hippo pathway regulation for vertebrates. These studies highlight the utility of this transgenic tool-suite for ongoing analysis into the mechanisms of Hippo pathway regulation and the consequences of signaling output.