The c-Abl-MST1 signaling pathway mediates oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell death.
Oxidative stress influences cell survival and homeostasis, but the mechanisms underlying the biological effects of oxidative stress remain to be elucidated. The protein kinase MST1 (mammalian Ste20-like kinase 1) plays a major role in oxidative stress-induced cell death in primary mammalian neurons. However, the mechanisms that regulate MST1 in oxidative stress responses remain largely unknown. In the present study, we demonstrate that the protein kinase c-Abl phosphorylates MST1 at Y433, which triggers the stabilization and activation of MST1. Inhibition of c-Abl promotes the degradation of MST1 through C terminus of Hsc70-interacting protein (CHIP)-mediated ubiquitination, and thereby attenuates cell death. Oxidative stress induces the c-Abl-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation of MST1 and increases the interaction between MST1 and FOXO3 (Forkhead box O3), thereby activating the MST1-FOXO signaling pathway, leading to cell death in both primary culture neurons and rat hippocampal neurons. The identification of the c-Abl tyrosine kinase as a novel upstream activator of MST1 suggests that the c-Abl-MST1 signaling cascade plays an important role in cellular responses to oxidative stress.