Optogenetic control of YAP can enhance the rate of wound healing

Pearlyn Jia Ying Toh, Marius Sudol, Timothy Edward Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Tissues need to regenerate to restore function after injury. Yet, this regenerative capacity varies significantly between organs and between species. For example, in the heart, some species retain full regenerative capacity throughout their lifespan but human cardiac cells display a limited ability to repair the injury. After a myocardial infarction, the function of cardiomyocytes is impaired and reduces the ability of the heart to pump, causing heart failure. Therefore, there is a need to restore the function of an injured heart post myocardial infarction. We investigate in cell culture the role of the Yes-associated protein (YAP), a transcriptional co-regulator with a pivotal role in growth, in driving repair after injury. Methods: We express optogenetic YAP (optoYAP) in three different cell lines. We characterised the behaviour and function of optoYAP using fluorescence imaging and quantitative real-time PCR of downstream YAP target genes. Mutant constructs were generated using site-directed mutagenesis. Nuclear localised optoYAP was functionally tested using wound healing assay. Results: Utilising optoYAP, which enables precise control of pathway activation, we show that YAP induces the expression of downstream genes involved in proliferation and migration. optoYAP can increase the speed of wound healing in H9c2 cardiomyoblasts. Interestingly, this is not driven by an increase in proliferation, but by collective cell migration. We subsequently dissect specific phosphorylation sites in YAP to identify the molecular driver of accelerated healing. Conclusions: This study shows that optogenetic YAP is functional in H9c2 cardiomyoblasts and its controlled activation can potentially enhance wound healing in a range of conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
JournalCellular and Molecular Biology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Hippo-YAP
  • Optogenetics
  • Wound healing


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