Brachyury-YAP Regulatory Axis Drives Stemness and Growth in Cancer

Sagar R. Shah, Justin M. David, Nathaniel D. Tippens, Ahmed Mohyeldin, Juan C. Martinez-Gutierrez, Sara Ganaha, Paula Schiapparelli, Duane H. Hamilton, Claudia Palena, Andre Levchenko, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Molecular factors that define stem cell identity have recently emerged as oncogenic drivers. For instance, brachyury, a key developmental transcriptional factor, is also implicated in carcinogenesis, most notably of chordoma, through mechanisms that remain elusive. Here, we show that brachyury is a crucial regulator of stemness in chordoma and in more common aggressive cancers. Furthermore, this effect of brachyury is mediated by control of synthesis and stability of Yes-associated protein (YAP), a key regulator of tissue growth and homeostasis, providing an unexpected mechanism of control of YAP expression. We further demonstrate that the brachyury-YAP regulatory pathway is associated with tumor aggressiveness. These results elucidate a mechanism of controlling both tumor stemness and aggressiveness through regulatory coupling of two developmental factors. Malignant neoplasms exhibit uninhibited and dysregulated growth coupled with acquisition of stem-like properties that are integral to the development and progression of disease. Shah et al. demonstrate a critical role of brachyury in regulating stemness and growth by activating YAP through direct transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms in various cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-507
Number of pages13
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 10 2017



  • brachyury
  • chordoma
  • glioblastoma
  • growth
  • lung carcinoma
  • stremness
  • YAP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Shah, S. R., David, J. M., Tippens, N. D., Mohyeldin, A., Martinez-Gutierrez, J. C., Ganaha, S., Schiapparelli, P., Hamilton, D. H., Palena, C., Levchenko, A., & Quinones-Hinojosa, A. (2017). Brachyury-YAP Regulatory Axis Drives Stemness and Growth in Cancer. Cell Reports, 21(2), 495-507.