Purpose: Activation of YAP1, a novel oncogene in the Hippo pathway, has been observed in many cancers, including colorectal cancer. We investigated whether activation of YAP1 is significantly associated with prognosis or treatment outcomes in colorectal cancer.
Experimental Design: A gene expression signature reflecting YAP1 activation was identified in colorectal cancer cells, and patients with colorectal cancer were stratified into two groups according to this signature: activated YAP1 colorectal cancer (AYCC) or inactivated YAP1 colorectal cancer (IYCC). Stratified patients in five test cohorts were evaluated to determine the effect of the signature on colorectal cancer prognosis and response to cetuximab treatment.
Results: The activated YAP1 signature was associated with poor prognosis for colorectal cancer in four independent patient cohorts with stage I-III disease (total n = 1,028). In a multivariate analysis, the impact of the YAP1 signature on disease-free survival was independent of other clinical variables [hazard ratio (HR), 1.63; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.25-2.13; P < 0.001]. In patients with stage IV colorectal cancer and wild-type KRAS, IYCC patients had a better disease control rate and progression-free survival (PFS) after cetuximab monotherapy than did AYCC patients; however, in patients with KRAS mutations, PFS duration after cetuximab monotherapy was not different between IYCC and AYCC patients. In multivariate analysis, the effect of YAP1 activation on PFS was independent of KRAS mutation status and other clinical variables (HR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.05-3.16; P = 0.03).
Conclusions: Activation of YAP1 is highly associated with poor prognosis for colorectal cancer and may be useful in identifying patients with metastatic colorectal cancer resistant to cetuximab.