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Oxidative stress influences cell survival and homeostasis, but the mechanisms underlying the biological effects of oxidative stress remain to be elucidated. Here, we demonstrate that the protein kinase MST1 mediates oxidative-stress-induced cell death in primary mammalian neurons by directly activating the FOXO transcription factors. MST1 phosphorylates FOXO proteins at a conserved site within the forkhead domain that disrupts their interaction with 14-3-3 proteins, promotes FOXO nuclear translocation, and thereby induces cell death in neurons. We also extend the MST-FOXO signaling link to nematodes. Knockdown of the C. elegans MST1 ortholog CST-1 shortens life span and accelerates tissue aging, while overexpression of cst-1 promotes life span and delays aging. The cst-1-induced life-span extension occurs in a daf-16-dependent manner. The identification of the FOXO transcription factors as major and evolutionarily conserved targets of MST1 suggests that MST kinases play important roles in diverse biological processes including cellular responses to oxidative stress and longevity.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





987 - 1001


14-3-3 Proteins, Active Transport, Cell Nucleus, Animals, Animals, Newborn, Caenorhabditis elegans, Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins, Cell Aging, Cell Death, Cells, Cultured, Conserved Sequence, Evolution, Molecular, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Longevity, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Neurons, Oxidative Stress, Phosphorylation, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, Rats, Signal Transduction, Transcriptional Activation