Inhibiting Hippo pathway kinases releases WWC1 to promote AMPAR-dependent synaptic plasticity and long-term memory in mice

Jens Stepan, Daniel E. Heinz, Frederik Dethloff, Svenja Wiechmann, Silvia Martinelli, Kathrin Hafner, Tim Ebert, Ellen Junglas, Alexander S. Häusl, Max L. Pöhlmann, Mira Jakovcevski, Julius C. Pape, Anthony S. Zannas, Thomas Bajaj, Anke Hermann, Xiao Ma, Hermann Pavenstädt, Mathias V. Schmidt, Alexandra Philipsen, Christoph W. TurckJan M. Deussing, Gerhard Rammes, Andrew C. Robinson, Antony Payton, Michael C. Wehr, Valentin Stein, Christopher Murgatroyd, Joachim Kremerskothen, Bernhard Kuster, Carsten T. Wotjak, Nils C. Gassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The localization, number, and function of postsynaptic AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) are crucial for synaptic plasticity, a cellular correlate for learning and memory. The Hippo pathway member WWC1 is an important component of AMPAR-containing protein complexes. However, the availability of WWC1 is constrained by its interaction with the Hippo pathway kinases LATS1 and LATS2 (LATS1/2). Here, we explored the biochemical regulation of this interaction and found that it is pharmacologically targetable in vivo. In primary hippocampal neurons, phosphorylation of LATS1/2 by the upstream kinases MST1 and MST2 (MST1/2) enhanced the interaction between WWC1 and LATS1/2, which sequestered WWC1. Pharmacologically inhibiting MST1/2 in male mice and in human brain-derived organoids promoted the dissociation of WWC1 from LATS1/2, leading to an increase in WWC1 in AMPAR-containing complexes. MST1/2 inhibition enhanced synaptic transmission in mouse hippocampal brain slices and improved cognition in healthy male mice and in male mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and aging. Thus, compounds that disrupt the interaction between WWC1 and LATS1/2 might be explored for development as cognitive enhancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadj6603
JournalScience Signaling
Issue number834
StatePublished - 30 Apr 2024


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