Characterization of the mammalian YAP (Yes-associated protein) gene and its role in defining a novel protein module, the WW domain.
We report cDNA cloning and characterization of the human and mouse orthologs of the chicken YAP (Yes-associated protein) gene which encodes a novel protein that binds to the SH3 (Src homology 3) domain of the Yes proto-oncogene product. Sequence comparison between mouse, human, and chicken YAP proteins showed an inserted sequence in the mouse YAP that represented an imperfect repeat of an upstream sequence. Further analysis of this sequence revealed a putative protein module that is found in various structural, regulatory, and signaling molecules in yeast, nematode, and mammals including human dystrophin. Because one of the prominent features of this sequence motif is two tryptophans (W), we named it the WW domain (Bork, P., and Sudol, M. (1994) Trends Biochem. Sci. 19, 531-533). Since its delineation, more proteins have been shown to contain this domain, and we report here on the widespread distribution of the WW module and present a discussion of its possible function. We have also shown that the human YAP gene is well conserved among higher eukaryotes, but it may not be conserved in yeast. Its expression at the RNA level in adult human tissues is nearly ubiquitous, being relatively high in placenta, prostate, ovary, and testis, but is not detectable in peripheral blood leukocytes. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization on human metaphase chromosomes and by analyzing rodent-human hybrids by Southern blot hybridization and polymerase chain reaction amplification, we mapped the human YAP gene to chromosome band 11q13, a region to which the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 gene has been mapped.