Article Text

Download PDFPDF
PTPN14 phosphatase and YAP promote TGFβ signalling in rheumatoid synoviocytes
  1. Angel Bottini1,2,
  2. Dennis J Wu1,
  3. Rizi Ai3,
  4. Michelle Le Roux2,
  5. Beatrix Bartok1,
  6. Michele Bombardieri4,
  7. Karen M Doody2,
  8. Vida Zhang1,2,
  9. Cristiano Sacchetti1,2,
  10. Martina Zoccheddu1,
  11. Ana Lonic5,
  12. Xiaochun Li5,
  13. David L Boyle1,
  14. Deepa Hammaker1,
  15. Tzu-Ching Meng6,
  16. Lin Liu7,
  17. Maripat Corr1,
  18. Stephanie M Stanford1,2,
  19. Myles Lewis4,
  20. Wei Wang3,8,
  21. Gary S Firestein1,
  22. Yeesim Khew-Goodall5,
  23. Costantino Pitzalis4,
  24. Nunzio Bottini1,2
  1. 1 Dept. of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  2. 2 Division of Cellular Biology, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, La Jolla, CA, USA
  3. 3 Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
  4. 4 Centre for Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology, William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  5. 5 Centre for Cancer Biology, SA Pathology and University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  6. 6 Institute for Biological Chemistry, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
  7. 7 Dept. of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
  8. 8 Dept. of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr. Nunzio Bottini, Dept. of Medicine, University of California San Diego, MC0656, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA; nbottini{at}; Professor Costantino Pitzalis, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London E1 4NS, UK; c.pitzalis{at}


Objective We aimed to understand the role of the tyrosine phosphatase PTPN14—which in cancer cells modulates the Hippo pathway by retaining YAP in the cytosol—in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods Gene/protein expression levels were measured by quantitative PCR and/or Western blotting. Gene knockdown in RA FLS was achieved using antisense oligonucleotides. The interaction between PTPN14 and YAP was assessed by immunoprecipitation. The cellular localisation of YAP and SMAD3 was examined via immunofluorescence. SMAD reporter studies were carried out in HEK293T cells. The RA FLS/cartilage coimplantation and passive K/BxN models were used to examine the role of YAP in arthritis.

Results RA FLS displayed overexpression of PTPN14 when compared with FLS from patients with osteoarthritis (OA). PTPN14 knockdown in RA FLS impaired TGFβ-dependent expression of MMP13 and potentiation of TNF signalling. In RA FLS, PTPN14 formed a complex with YAP. Expression of PTPN14 or nuclear YAP—but not of a non-YAP-interacting PTPN14 mutant—enhanced SMAD reporter activity. YAP promoted TGFβ-dependent SMAD3 nuclear localisation in RA FLS. Differences in epigenetic marks within Hippo pathway genes, including YAP, were found between RA FLS and OA FLS. Inhibition of YAP reduced RA FLS pathogenic behaviour and ameliorated arthritis severity.

Conclusion In RA FLS, PTPN14 and YAP promote nuclear localisation of SMAD3. YAP enhances a range of RA FLS pathogenic behaviours which, together with epigenetic evidence, points to the Hippo pathway as an important regulator of RA FLS behaviour.

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • fibroblast-like synoviocytes
  • PTPN14
  • YAP
  • TGFβ
  • Verteporfin
  • K/BxN

Statistics from


  • AB and DJW contributed equally.

  • Handling editor Josef S Smolen

  • Contributors AB, DJW, CP and NB conceived, designed and supervised the research, analysed data and wrote the paper. AB, DJW, RA, MLR, BB, MB, KMD, VZ, CS, MZ, AL, XL, LL, DLB, DH, T-CM, MC, SMS, ML, WW, GF, YK-G contributed to acquisition and/or analysis of data. All authors approved the final version of the paper.

  • Funding This study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants R01 AR066053 and AI070544 and Department of Defense (DOD) grant # W81XWH-16-1-0751 (to NB). AB and DJW were supported by NIH Training Grant T32 AR064194.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval All animal experiments were conducted in accordance with protocols approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the La Jolla Institute (#AP140-NB4) and UC SAN DIEGO (#S16098). The generation and banking of FLS lines from arthroplasties was approved by the UC San Diego IRB (#140175). Ethical approval for the PEAC cohort was granted by the King’s College Hospital Research Ethics Committee (REC 05/Q0703/198).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no additional unpublished data.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.