Intestinal cell kinase, a MAP kinase-related kinase, regulates proliferation and G1 cell cycle progression of intestinal epithelial cells

Zheng Fu, Jungeun Kim, Alda Vidrich, Thomas W. Sturgill, Steven M. Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Intestinal cell kinase (ICK), originally cloned from the intestine and expressed in the intestinal crypt epithelium, is a highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase that is similar to mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in the catalytic domain and requires dual phosphorylation within a MAPK-like TDY motif for full activation. Despite these similarities to MAPKs, the biological functions of ICK remain unknown. In this study, we report that suppression of ICK expression in cultured intestinal epithelial cells by short hairpin RNA (shRNA) interference significantly impaired cellular proliferation and induced features of gene expression characteristic of colonic or enterocytic differentiation. Downregulation of ICK altered expression of cell cycle regulators (cyclin D1, c-Myc, and p21Cip1/WAF1) of G1-S transition, consistent with the G1 cell cycle delay induced by ICK shRNA. ICK deficiency also led to a significant decrease in the expression and/or activity of p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase (S6K1) and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), concomitant with reduced expression of their upstream regulators, the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and the regulatory associated protein of mTOR (Raptor). Furthermore, ICK interacts with the mTOR/Raptor complex in vivo and phosphorylates Raptor in vitro. These results suggest that disrupting ICK function may downregulate protein translation of specific downstream targets of eIF4E and S6K1 such as cyclin D1 and c-Myc through the mTOR/Raptor signaling pathway. Taken together, our findings demonstrate an important role for ICK in proliferation and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G632-G640
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Caudaltype homeobox protein 2 (Cdx2)
  • Intestinal epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation
  • Mammalian target of rapamycin
  • Regulatory associated protein of mTOR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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