Optogenetic control of YAP cellular localisation and function

Pearlyn J.Y. Toh, Jason K.H. Lai, Anke Hermann, Olivier Destaing, Michael P. Sheetz, Marius Sudol, Timothy E. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


YAP, an effector of the Hippo signalling pathway, promotes organ growth and regeneration. Prolonged YAP activation results in uncontrolled proliferation and cancer. Therefore, exogenous regulation of YAP activity has potential translational applications. We present a versatile optogenetic construct (optoYAP) for manipulating YAP localisation, and consequently its activity and function. We attach a LOV2 domain that photocages a nuclear localisation signal (NLS) to the N-terminus of YAP. In 488 nm light, the LOV2 domain unfolds, exposing the NLS, which shuttles optoYAP into the nucleus. Nuclear import of optoYAP is reversible and tuneable by light intensity. In cell culture, activated optoYAP promotes YAP target gene expression and cell proliferation. Similarly, optofYap can be used in zebrafish embryos to modulate target genes. We demonstrate that optoYAP can override a cell's response to substrate stiffness to generate anchorage-independent growth. OptoYAP is functional in both cell culture and in vivo, providing a powerful tool to address basic research questions and therapeutic applications in regeneration and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere54401
JournalEMBO reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 5 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • YAP
  • cell proliferation
  • optogenetics
  • spatiotemporal dynamics
  • zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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