Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a major driver of blood vessel formation. However, the signal transduction pathways culminating in the biological consequences of VEGF signaling are only partially understood. Here, we show that the Hippo pathway effectors YAP and TAZ work as crucial signal transducers to mediate VEGF-VEGFR2 signaling during angiogenesis. We demonstrate that YAP/TAZ are essential for vascular development as endothelium-specific deletion of YAP/TAZ leads to impaired vascularization and embryonic lethality. Mechanistically, we show that VEGF activates YAP/TAZ via its effects on actin cytoskeleton and that activated YAP/TAZ induce a transcriptional program to further control cytoskeleton dynamics and thus establish a feedforward loop that ensures a proper angiogenic response. Lack of YAP/TAZ also results in altered cellular distribution of VEGFR2 due to trafficking defects from the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane. Altogether, our study identifies YAP/TAZ as central mediators of VEGF signaling and therefore as important regulators of angiogenesis.
Sheet-forming Collagen IV is the main component of basement membranes, which are planar polymers of extracellular matrix underlying epithelia and surrounding organs in all animals. Adipocytes in both insects and mammals are mesodermal in origin and often classified as mesenchymal. However, they form true tissues where cells remain compactly associated. Neither the mechanisms providing this tissue-level organization nor its functional significance are known. Here we show that discrete Collagen IV intercellular concentrations (CIVICs), distinct from basement membranes and thicker in section, mediate inter-adipocyte adhesion in Drosophila. Loss of these Collagen-IV-containing structures in the larval fat body caused intercellular gaps and disrupted continuity of the adipose tissue layer. We also found that Integrin and Syndecan matrix receptors attach adipocytes to CIVICs and direct their formation. Finally, we show that Integrin-mediated adhesion to CIVICs promotes normal adipocyte growth and prevents autophagy through Src-Pi3K-Akt signaling. Our results evidence a surprising non-basement membrane role of Collagen IV in non-epithelial tissue morphogenesis while demonstrating adhesion and signaling functions for these structures.