Both phosphorylation and caspase-mediated cleavage contribute to regulation of the Ste20-like protein kinase Mst1 during CD95/Fas-induced apoptosis

J Biol Chem. 2001 May 4;276(18):14909-15. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M010905200. Epub 2001 Feb 13.


The serine/threonine kinase Mst1, a mammalian homolog of the budding yeast Ste20 kinase, is cleaved by caspase-mediated proteolysis in response to apoptotic stimuli such as ligation of CD95/Fas or treatment with staurosporine. Furthermore, overexpression of Mst1 induces morphological changes characteristic of apoptosis in human B lymphoma cells. Mst1 may therefore represent an important target for caspases during cell death which serves to amplify the apoptotic response. Here we report that Mst1 has two caspase cleavage sites, and we present evidence indicating that cleavage may occur in an ordered fashion and be mediated by distinct caspases. We also show that caspase-mediated cleavage alone is insufficient to activate Mst1, suggesting that full activation of Mst1 during apoptosis requires both phosphorylation and proteolysis. Another role of phosphorylation may be to influence the susceptibility of Mst1 to proteolysis. Autophosphorylation of Mst1 on a serine residue close to one of the caspase sites inhibited caspase-mediated cleavage in vitro. Finally, Mst1 appears to function upstream of the protein kinase MEKK1 in the SAPK pathway. In conclusion, Mst1 activity is regulated by both phosphorylation and proteolysis, suggesting that protein kinase and caspase pathways work in concert to regulate cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • fas Receptor / physiology*


  • fas Receptor
  • STK4 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Caspases