How did cells of early metazoan organisms first organize themselves to form a body axis? The canonical Wnt pathway has been shown to be sufficient for induction of axis in Cnidaria, a sister group to Bilateria, and is important in bilaterian axis formation. Here, we provide experimental evidence that in cnidarian Hydra the Hippo pathway regulates the formation of a new axis during budding upstream of the Wnt pathway. The transcriptional target of the Hippo pathway, the transcriptional coactivator YAP, inhibits the initiation of budding in Hydra and is regulated by Hydra LATS. In addition, we show functions of the Hippo pathway in regulation of actin organization and cell proliferation in Hydra. We hypothesize that the Hippo pathway served as a link between continuous cell division, cell density, and axis formation early in metazoan evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2203257119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 19 2022


  • Hippo
  • Hydra
  • Wnt
  • Yap
  • axis formation


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