Willin as a novel 4.1 ezrin radixin moesin (FERM) domain protein in the mammalian hippo signalling pathway
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The Salvador/Warts/Hippo (Hippo) pathway deﬁnes a novel signalling cascade regulating cell contact inhibition, organ size control, cell growth, proliferation, apoptosis and cancer development in mammals. The Hippo pathway was initially utilised in D. melanogaster, where the Expanded protein acts in the Hippo signalling cascade to control organ size. Willin is the proposed human orthologue of Expanded and the aim of this thesis is to investigate whether willin can activate the mammalian Hippo signalling pathway. Ectopic willin expression causes an increase in phosphorylation of the core Hippo signalling pathway components MST1/2, LATS1 and YAP, an effect which can be antagonised by ezrin. In MCF10A cells, willin over-expression antagonises a YAP-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition via the N- terminal FERM (Four-point-one Ezrin Radixin Moesin) domain of willin. Preliminary results show that willin is expressed within the sciatic nerve of rat and mice, and within the neuromast cells in the zebraﬁsh; suggesting that willin and the Hippo pathway may play a vital role in the developmental regulation within the peripheral nervous system. To conclude, willin inﬂuences Hippo signalling activity by activating the core Hippo pathway kinase cassette in mammalian cells.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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