The Pro-Apoptotic Kinase Mst1 and Its Caspase Cleavage Products Are Direct Inhibitors of Akt1

EMBO J. 2007 Oct 31;26(21):4523-34. doi: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601872. Epub 2007 Oct 11.


Akt kinases mediate cell growth and survival. Here, we report that a pro-apoptotic kinase, Mst1/STK4, is a physiological Akt1 interaction partner. Mst1 was identified as a component of an Akt1 multiprotein complex isolated from lipid raft-enriched fractions of LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. Endogenous Mst1, along with its paralog, Mst2, acted as inhibitors of endogenous Akt1. Surprisingly, mature Mst1 as well as both of its caspase cleavage products, which localize to distinct subcellular compartments and are not structurally homologous, complexed with and inhibited Akt1. cRNAs encoding full-length Mst1, and N- and C-terminal caspase Mst1 cleavage products, reverted an early lethal phenotype in zebrafish development induced by expression of membrane-targeted Akt1. Mst1 and Akt1 localized to identical subcellular sites in human prostate tumors. Mst1 levels declined with progression from clinically localized to hormone refractory disease, coinciding with an increase in Akt activation with transition from hormone naïve to hormone-resistant metastases. These results position Mst1/2 within a novel branch of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway and suggest an important role in cancer progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Microdomains / chemistry
  • Models, Biological
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / physiology*
  • Zebrafish


  • STK4 protein, human
  • AKT1 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Caspases