MST3 is a member of the sterile-20 protein kinase family with a unique preference for manganese ion as a cofactor in vitro; however, its biological function is largely unknown. Suppression of endogenous MST3 by small interference RNA enhanced cellular migration in MCF-7 cells with reduced expression of E-cadherin at the edge of migrating cells. The alteration of cellular migration and protruding can be rescued by RNA interference-resistant MST3. The expression of surface integrin and Golgi apparatus was not altered, but phosphorylation on tyrosine 118 and tyrosine 31 of paxillin was attenuated by MST3 small interfering RNA (siRNA). Threonine 178 was determined to be one of the two main autophosphorylation sites of MST3 in vitro. Mutant T178A MST3, containing alanine instead of threonine at codon 178, lost autophosphorylation and kinase activities. Overexpression of wild type MST3, but not the T178A mutant MST3, inhibited migration and spreading in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. MST3 could phosphorylate the protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP)-PEST and inhibit the tyrosine phosphatase activity of PTP-PEST. We conclude that MST3 inhibits cell migration in a fashion dependent on autophosphorylation and may regulate paxillin phosphorylation through tyrosine phosphatase PTP-PEST.
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