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Curr Mol Med. 2008 Jun;8(4):313-8.

Demystifying MST family kinases in cell death.

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Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The MST family of protein kinases plays a critical role in the regulation of cell death in diverse organisms including mammals. The intracellular signaling pathways that regulate MST-driven cell death in mammalian cells are the subject of intense investigation. Stress stimuli including oxidative stress and DNA damaging agents trigger the activity of MST in cells. Although the mechanisms by which oxidative stress and DNA damage trigger MST activation remain to be identified, MST activity can be regulated by caspase-induced cleavage as well as interactions with other proteins in cells. Once activated upon oxidative stress, MST induces cell death via phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factor FOXO3 or the histone protein H2B. This review focuses on the currently known upstream activating mechanisms for MST, and explores the downstream signaling pathways that mediate MST's principal function in cell death. Elucidation of MST functions and their regulatory mechanisms in cell death have important implications for our understanding of cellular homeostasis as well as the pathogenesis of diverse diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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