TAZ promotes PDX1-mediated insulinogenesis

Mi Gyeong Jeong, Hyo Kyeong Kim, Gibbeum Lee, Hee Yeon Won, Da Hye Yoon, Eun Sook Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transcriptional co-activator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) is a key mediator of the Hippo signaling pathway and regulates structural and functional homeostasis in various tissues. TAZ activation is associated with the development of pancreatic cancer in humans, but it is unclear whether TAZ directly affects the structure and function of the pancreas. So we sought to identify the TAZ function in the normal pancreas. TAZ defect caused structural changes in the pancreas, particularly islet cell shrinkage and decreased insulin production and β-cell markers expression, leading to hyperglycemia. Interestingly, TAZ physically interacted with the pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX1), a key insulin transcription factor, through the N-terminal domain of TAZ and the homeodomain of PDX1. TAZ deficiency decreased the DNA-binding and transcriptional activity of PDX1, whereas TAZ overexpression promoted PDX1 activity and increased insulin production even in a low glucose environment. Indeed, high glucose increased insulin production by turning off the Hippo pathway and inducing TAZ activation in pancreatic β-cells. Ectopic TAZ overexpression along with PDX1 activation was sufficient to produce insulin in non-β-cells. TAZ deficiency impaired the mesenchymal stem cell differentiation into insulin-producing cells (IPCs), whereas TAZ recovery restored normal IPCs differentiation. Compared to WT control, body weight increased in TAZ-deficient mice with age and even more with a high-fat diet (HFD). TAZ deficiency significantly exacerbated HFD-induced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Therefore, TAZ deficiency impaired pancreatic insulin production, causing hyperglycemia and exacerbating HFD-induced insulin resistance, indicating that TAZ may have a beneficial effect in treating insulin deficiency in diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number186
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Glucose homeostasis
  • Hippo
  • Insulin resistance
  • Prediabetes
  • Protein–protein interaction


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