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As well as providing a structural framework, the actin cytoskeleton plays integral roles in cell death, survival, and proliferation. The disruption of the actin cytoskeleton results in the activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) pathway; however, the sensor of actin integrity that couples to the JNK pathway has not been characterized in mammalian cells. We now report that the mammalian Ste20-like (MST) kinases mediate the activation of the JNK pathway in response to the disruption of the actin cytoskeleton. One consequence of actin disruption is the JNK-mediated stabilization of p21(Waf1/Cip1) (p21) via the phosphorylation of Thr57. The expression of MST1 or MST2 was sufficient to stabilize p21 in a JNK- and Thr57-dependent manner, while the stabilization of p21 by actin disruption required MST activity. These data indicate that, in addition to being components of the Salvador-Warts-Hippo tumor suppressor network and binding partners of c-Raf and the RASSF1A tumor suppressor, MST kinases serve to monitor cytoskeletal integrity and couple via the JNK SAPK pathway to the regulation of a key cell cycle regulatory protein.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cell Biol

Publication Date





6380 - 6390


Actins, Animals, Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21, Cytoskeleton, Emetine, Enzyme Activation, Enzyme Stability, HeLa Cells, Humans, Mice, Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8, Mutagenesis, Site-Directed, NIH 3T3 Cells, Protein Synthesis Inhibitors, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, RNA Interference, Recombinant Fusion Proteins, Signal Transduction