The kinase MST4 limits inflammatory responses through direct phosphorylation of the adaptor TRAF6

Nat Immunol. 2015 Mar;16(3):246-57. doi: 10.1038/ni.3097. Epub 2015 Feb 2.


Immune responses need to be tightly controlled to avoid excessive inflammation and prevent unwanted host damage. Here we report that germinal center kinase MST4 responded dynamically to bacterial infection and acted as a negative regulator of inflammation. We found that MST4 directly interacted with and phosphorylated the adaptor TRAF6 to prevent its oligomerization and autoubiquitination. Accordingly, MST4 did not inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced cytokine production in Traf6(-/-) embryonic fibroblasts transfected to express a mutant form of TRAF6 that cannot be phosphorylated at positions 463 and 486 (with substitution of alanine for threonine at those positions). Upon developing septic shock, mice in which MST4 was knocked down showed exacerbated inflammation and reduced survival, whereas heterozygous deletion of Traf6 (Traf6(+/-)) alleviated such deleterious effects. Our findings reveal a mechanism by which TRAF6 is regulated and highlight a role for MST4 in limiting inflammatory responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphorylation / physiology*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Sepsis / blood
  • Shock, Septic / chemically induced
  • Shock, Septic / metabolism
  • TNF Receptor-Associated Factor 6 / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • TNF Receptor-Associated Factor 6
  • STK26 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases