1. Committee on Development, Regeneration, and Stem Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
2. Section of Dermatology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
3. Department of Dermatology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
4. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Yes Associated Protein 1 (YAP) and Transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-Binding Motif (TAZ) have gained notoriety for their ability to drive tumor initiation and progression in a wide variety of cancers, including melanoma. YAP and TAZ act as drivers of melanoma through its interaction with the TEAD family of transcription factors. Verteporfin is a benzoporphyrin derivative that is used clinically for photodynamic treatment of macular degeneration. Recently it has emerged as a potential inhibitor of YAP/TAZ-TEAD interaction independent of light activation. In this study we determine if verteporfin has clinical potential by testing this compound on human melanoma cell cultures and in a clinically significant mouse model, BrafCA; Tyr-CreERT2; Ptenf/f, which parallels human melanoma in terms of disease progression, genetics, and histopathology. In culture, Verteporfin treatment induces a rapid drop in YAP and TAZ protein levels and cell numbers. In the transgenic model, utilizing drug levels that correspond to previously determined safe doses in human patients and with a dosing regimen calculated in this study, Verteporfin did not inhibit melanoma initiation or progression in comparison to mock treated controls. Taken together, our study suggests that although Verteporfin induces YAP/TAZ degradation in melanoma cell lines, Verteporfin was not effective as a YAP/TAZ-TEAD specific inhibitor of melanoma in our studies that aimed to mimic conditions found in clinic in terms of treatment regimen and disease model.
Keywords: melanoma, YAP, TAZ, Verteporfin, hippo pathway, mouse models