BACKGROUND: Mammalian Ste20-like kinases (MSTs) are the mammalian homologue of Drosophila hippo and play critical roles in regulation of cell death, organ size control, proliferation and tumorigenesis. MSTs exert pro-apoptotic function through cleavage, autophosphorylation and in turn phosphorylation of downstream targets, such as Histone H2B and FOXO (Forkhead box O). Previously we reported that protein kinase c-Abl mediates oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell death through phosphorylating MST1 at Y433, which is not conserved among mammalian MST2, Drosophila Hippo and C.elegans cst-1/2.<br /><br />METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using immunoblotting, in vitro kinase and cell death assay, we demonstrate that c-Abl kinase phosphorylates MST2 at an evolutionarily conserved site, Y81, within the kinase domain. We further show that the phosphorylation of MST2 by c-Abl leads to the disruption of the interaction with Raf-1 proteins and the enhancement of homodimerization of MST2 proteins. It thereby enhances the MST2 activation and induces neuronal cell death.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The identification of the c-Abl tyrosine kinase as a novel upstream activator of MST2 suggests that the conserved c-Abl-MST signaling cascade plays an important role in oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell death.
Liu, W., Wu, J., Xiao, L., Bai, Y., Qu, A., Zheng, Z., & Yuan, Z. (2012). Regulation of neuronal cell death by c-Abl-Hippo/MST2 signaling pathway. PLoS ONE, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036562