Cloning of the YAP1 gene facilitated the identification of a modular protein domain, known as the WW domain. Two splice isoforms of the YAP1 gene product were initially identified, named YAP1-1 and YAP1-2, which differed by the presence of an extra 38 amino acids that encoded the WW domain. Apart from the WW domain, the modular structure of YAP1 contains a proline-rich region at the very amino terminus, which is followed by a TID (TEAD transcription factor interacting domain). Next, following a single WW domain, which is present in the YAP1-1 isoform, and two WW domains, which are present in the YAP1-2 isoform, there is the SH3-BM (Src Homology 3 binding motif). Following the SH3-BM is a TAD (transcription activation domain) and a PDZ domain-binding motif (PDZ-BM) (Figure 1).
Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the YAP1 gene have been identified in two families with major eye malformations with or without extra-ocular features such as hearing loss, cleft lip, intellectual disability and renal disease.
The YAP1 oncogene serves as a target for the development of new cancer drugs. Small compounds have been identified that disrupt the YAP1-TEAD complex or block the binding function of WW domains. These small molecules represent lead compounds for the development of therapies for cancer patients, who harbor amplified or overexpressed YAP oncogene.
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