Metabolic “Sense Relay” in Stem Cells: A Short But Impactful Life of PAS Kinase Balancing Stem Cell Fates

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Tissue regeneration is a complex molecular and biochemical symphony. Signaling pathways establish the rhythmic proliferation and differentiation cadence of participating cells to repair the damaged tissues and repopulate the tissue-resident stem cells. Sensory proteins form a critical bridge between the environment and cellular response machinery, enabling precise spatiotemporal control of stem cell fate. Of many sensory modules found in proteins from prokaryotes to mammals, Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domains are one of the most ancient and found in the most diverse physiological context. In metazoa, PAS domains are found in many transcription factors and ion channels; however, PAS domain-containing Kinase (PASK) is the only metazoan kinase where the PAS sensory domain is connected to a signaling kinase domain. PASK is predominantly expressed in undifferentiated, self-renewing embryonic and adult stem cells, and its expression is rapidly lost upon differentiation, resulting in its nearly complete absence from the adult mammalian tissues. Thus, PASK is expressed within a narrow but critical temporal window when stem cell fate is established. In this review, we discuss the emerging insight into the sensory and signaling functions of PASK as an integrator of metabolic and nutrient signaling information that serves to balance self-renewal and differentiation programs during mammalian tissue regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1751
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding from the National Institute of Arthritis and musculoskeletal and Skin diseases to C.K. (1R01AR073906-01A1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the author.


  • PAS Kinase
  • PASK
  • Pax7
  • mTOR
  • mitochondria
  • muscle regeneration
  • myogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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