The Epithelial Circumferential Actin Belt Regulates YAP/TAZ through Nucleocytoplasmic Shuttling of Merlin

Kana T. Furukawa, Kazunari Yamashita, Natsuki Sakurai, Shigeo Ohno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Circumferential actin belts underlying the adherens junctions of columnar epithelial cell monolayers control intercellular surface tension and cell shape to maintain tissue integrity. Yes-associated protein (YAP) and its paralog TAZ are proliferation-activating transcriptional coactivators that shuttle between the nucleus and cytoplasm. Previous studies suggest the importance of stress fibers in the actin cytoskeleton for regulation of YAP nuclear localization; however, the role of the circumferential actin belt on YAP localization remains unclarified. By manipulating actin tension, we demonstrate that circumferential actin belt tension suppresses YAP/TAZ nuclear localization. This suppression requires Merlin, an F-actin binding protein associated with adherens junctions. Merlin physically interacts with YAP/TAZ, and nuclear export sequences of Merlin are required for suppression. Together, with the observation that the association between E-cadherin and Merlin was diminished by tension in circumferential actin belts, our results suggest that released Merlin undergoes nucleocytoplasmic shutting and mediates export of YAP/TAZ from the nucleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1435-1447
Number of pages13
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug 8
Externally publishedYes


  • Hippo
  • Merlin
  • TAZ
  • YAP
  • circumferential actin belt
  • epithelial cell
  • mechanotransduction
  • nuclear export
  • proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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