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.
The embryonic mouse lung is a widely used substitute for human lung development. For example, attempts to differentiate human pluripotent stem cells to lung epithelium rely on passing through progenitor states that have only been described in mouse. The tip epithelium of the branching mouse lung is a multipotent progenitor pool that self-renews and produces differentiating descendants. We hypothesized that the human distal tip epithelium is an analogous progenitor population and tested this by examining morphology, gene expression and in vitro self-renewal and differentiation capacity of human tips. These experiments confirm that human and mouse tips are analogous and identify signalling pathways that are sufficient for long-term self-renewal of human tips as differentiation-competent organoids. Moreover, we identify mouse-human differences, including markers that define progenitor states and signalling requirements for long-term self-renewal. Our organoid system provides a genetically-tractable tool that will allow these human-specific features of lung development to be investigated.
Glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) are implicated in tumor neovascularization, invasiveness, and therapeutic resistance. To illuminate mechanisms governing these hallmark features, we developed a de novo glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) model derived from immortalized human neural stem/progenitor cells (hNSCs) to enable precise system-level comparisons of pre-malignant and oncogene-induced malignant states of NSCs. Integrated transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses uncovered a PAX6/DLX5 transcriptional program driving WNT5A-mediated GSC differentiation into endothelial-like cells (GdECs). GdECs recruit existing endothelial cells to promote peritumoral satellite lesions, which serve as a niche supporting the growth of invasive glioma cells away from the primary tumor. Clinical data reveal higher WNT5A and GdECs expression in peritumoral and recurrent GBMs relative to matched intratumoral and primary GBMs, respectively, supporting WNT5A-mediated GSC differentiation and invasive growth in disease recurrence. Thus, the PAX6/DLX5-WNT5A axis governs the diffuse spread of glioma cells throughout the brain parenchyma, contributing to the lethality of GBM.