Impaired liver regeneration in aged mice can be rescued by silencing Hippo core kinases MST1 and MST2

EMBO Mol Med. 2017 Jan;9(1):46-60. doi: 10.15252/emmm.201506089.


The liver has an intrinsic capacity to regenerate in response to injury or surgical resection. Nevertheless, circumstances in which hepatocytes are unresponsive to proliferative signals result in impaired regeneration and hepatic failure. As the Hippo pathway has a canonical role in the maintenance of liver size, we investigated whether it could serve as a therapeutic target to support regeneration. Using a standard two-thirds partial hepatectomy (PH) model in young and aged mice, we demonstrate that the Hippo pathway is modulated across the phases of liver regeneration. The activity of the core kinases MST1 and LATS1 increased during the early hypertrophic phase and returned to steady state levels in the proliferative phase, coinciding with activation of YAP1 target genes and hepatocyte proliferation. Moreover, following PH in aged mice, we demonstrate that Hippo signaling is anomalous in non-regenerating livers. We provide pre-clinical evidence that silencing the Hippo core kinases MST1 and MST2 with siRNA provokes hepatocyte proliferation in quiescent livers and rescues liver regeneration in aged mice following PH. Our data suggest that targeting the Hippo core kinases MST1/2 has therapeutic potential to improve regeneration in non-regenerative disorders.

Keywords: Hippo pathway; MST; RNAi; aged liver; liver regeneration.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Hepatectomy
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Liver Regeneration*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Serine-Threonine Kinase 3


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • macrophage stimulating protein
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Serine-Threonine Kinase 3
  • Stk3 protein, mouse