The Misshapen subfamily of Ste20 kinases regulate proliferation in the aging mammalian intestinal epithelium

J Cell Physiol. 2019 Dec;234(12):21925-21936. doi: 10.1002/jcp.28756. Epub 2019 May 1.


The intestinal epithelium has a high rate of cell turn over and is an excellent system to study stem cell-mediated tissue homeostasis. The Misshapen subfamily of the Ste20 kinases in mammals consists of misshapen like kinase 1 (MINK1), mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase kinase 4 (MAP4K4), and TRAF2 and NCK interacting kinase (TNIK). Recent reports suggest that this subfamily has a novel function equal to the Hippo/MST subfamily as upstream kinases for Warts/Large tumor suppressor kinase (LATS) to suppress tissue growth. To study the in vivo functions of Mink1, Map4k4, and Tnik, we generated a compound knockout of these three genes in the mouse intestinal epithelium. The intestinal epithelia of the mutant animals were phenotypically normal up to approximately 12 months. The older animals then exhibited mildly increased proliferation throughout the lower GI tract. We also observed that the normally spatially organized Paneth cells in the crypt base became dispersed. The expression of one of the YAP pathway target genes Sox9 was increased while other target genes including CTGF did not show a significant change. Therefore, the Misshapen and Hippo subfamilies may have highly redundant functions to regulate growth in the intestinal epithelium, as illustrated in recent tissue culture models.

Keywords: MAP4K4; MINK1; Ste20 kinases; TNIK; hippo; intestine; misshapen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phosphorylation / physiology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*