Background and Aims: Activation of MYC and catenin beta-1 (CTNNB1, encoding β-catenin) can co-occur in liver cancer, but how these oncogenes cooperate in tumorigenesis remains unclear. Approach and Results: We generated a mouse model allowing conditional activation of MYC and WNT/β-catenin signaling (through either β-catenin activation or loss of APC - adenomatous polyposis coli) upon expression of CRE recombinase in the liver and monitored their effects on hepatocyte proliferation, apoptosis, gene expression profiles, and tumorigenesis. Activation of WNT/β-catenin signaling strongly accelerated MYC-driven carcinogenesis in the liver. Both pathways also cooperated in promoting cellular transformation in vitro, demonstrating their cell-autonomous action. Short-term induction of MYC and β-catenin in hepatocytes, followed by RNA-sequencing profiling, allowed the identification of a “Myc/β-catenin signature,” composed of a discrete set of Myc-activated genes whose expression increased in the presence of active β-catenin. Notably, this signature enriched for targets of Yes-associated protein (Yap) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (Taz), two transcriptional coactivators known to be activated by WNT/β-catenin signaling and to cooperate with MYC in mitogenic activation and liver transformation. Consistent with these regulatory connections, Yap/Taz accumulated upon Myc/β-catenin activation and were required not only for the ensuing proliferative response, but also for tumor cell growth and survival. Finally, the Myc/β-catenin signature was enriched in a subset of human hepatocellular carcinomas characterized by comparatively poor prognosis. Conclusions: Myc and β-catenin show a strong cooperative action in liver carcinogenesis, with Yap and Taz serving as mediators of this effect. These findings warrant efforts toward therapeutic targeting of Yap/Taz in aggressive liver tumors marked by elevated Myc/β-catenin activity.
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