ARTICLE ABSTRACTOral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a prevalent form of cancer that develops from the epithelium of the oral cavity. OSCC is on the rise worldwide, and death rates associated with the disease are particularly high. Despite progress in understanding the mutational and expression landscape associated with OSCC, advances in deciphering these alterations for the development of therapeutic strategies have been limited. Further insight into the molecular cues that contribute to OSCC is therefore required. Here, we show that the transcriptional regulators YAP (YAP1) and TAZ (WWTR1), which are key effectors of the Hippo pathway, drive protumorigenic signals in OSCC. Regions of premalignant oral tissues exhibit aberrant nuclear YAP accumulation, suggesting that dysregulated YAP activity contributes to the onset of OSCC. Supporting this premise, we determined that nuclear YAP and TAZ activity drives OSCC cell proliferation, survival, and migration in vitro, and is required for OSCC tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Global gene expression profiles associated with YAP and TAZ knockdown revealed changes in the control of gene expression implicated in protumorigenic signaling, including those required for cell cycle progression and survival. Notably, the transcriptional signature regulated by YAP and TAZ significantly correlates with gene expression changes occurring in human OSCCs identified by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), emphasizing a central role for YAP and TAZ in OSCC biology.Implications: This study defines a YAP/TAZ-regulated transcriptional program in OSCC and reveals novel roles for nuclear YAP/TAZ activity in the onset and progression of this cancer. Mol Cancer Res; 13(6); 957–68. ©2015 AACR.