Cell cycle regulation by the NEK family of protein kinases.
ABSTRACT: Genetic screens for cell division cycle mutants in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans led to the discovery of never-in-mitosis A (NIMA), a serine/threonine kinase that is required for mitotic entry. Since that discovery, NIMA-related kinases, or NEKs, have been identified in most eukaryotes, including humans where eleven genetically distinct proteins named NEK1 to NEK11 are expressed. Although there is no evidence that human NEKs are essential for mitotic entry, it is clear that several NEK family members have important roles in cell cycle control. In particular, NEK2, NEK6, NEK7 and NEK9 contribute to the establishment of the microtubule-based mitotic spindle, whereas NEK1, NEK10 and NEK11 have been implicated in the DNA damage response. Roles for NEKs in other aspects of mitotic progression, such as chromatin condensation, nuclear envelope breakdown, spindle assembly checkpoint signalling and cytokinesis have also been proposed. Interestingly, NEK1 and NEK8 also function within cilia, the microtubule-based structures that are nucleated from basal bodies. This has led to the current hypothesis that NEKs have evolved to coordinate microtubule-dependent processes in both dividing and non-dividing cells. Here, we review the functions of the human NEKs, with particular emphasis on those family members that are involved in cell cycle control, and consider their potential as therapeutic targets in cancer.
Project description:Human NimA-related kinases (Neks) have multiple mitotic and non-mitotic functions, but few substrates are known. We systematically determined the phosphorylation-site motifs for the entire Nek kinase family, except for Nek11. While all Nek kinases strongly select for hydrophobic residues in the -3 position, the family separates into four distinct groups based on specificity for a serine versus threonine phospho-acceptor, and preference for basic or acidic residues in other positions. Unlike Nek1-Nek9, Nek10 is a dual-specificity kinase that efficiently phosphorylates itself and peptide substrates on serine and tyrosine, and its activity is enhanced by tyrosine auto-phosphorylation. Nek10 dual-specificity depends on residues in the HRD+2 and APE-4 positions that are uncommon in either serine/threonine or tyrosine kinases. Finally, we show that the phosphorylation-site motifs for the mitotic kinases Nek6, Nek7 and Nek9 are essentially identical to that of their upstream activator Plk1, suggesting that Nek6/7/9 function as phospho-motif amplifiers of Plk1 signaling.
Project description:NIMA-related kinases (Neks) play divergent roles in mammalian cells. While several Neks regulate mitosis, Nek1 was reported to regulate DNA damage response, centrosome duplication and primary cilium formation. Whether Nek1 participates in cell cycle regulation is not known. Here we report that loss of Nek1 results in severe proliferation defect due to a delay in S-phase of the cell cycle. Nek1-deficient cells show replication stress and checkpoint activation under normal growth conditions. Nek1 accumulates on the chromatin during normal DNA replication. In response to replication stress, Nek1 is further activated for chromatin localization. Nek1 interacts with Ku80 and, in Nek1-deficient cells chromatin localization of Ku80 and several other DNA replication factors is significantly reduced. Thus, Nek1 may facilitate S-phase progression by interacting with Ku80 and regulating chromatin loading of replication factors.
Project description:Aside from Polo and Aurora, a third but less studied kinase family involved in mitosis regulation is the never in mitosis-gene A (NIMA)-related kinases (Neks). The founding member of this family is the sole member NIMA of Aspergillus nidulans, which is crucial for the initiation of mitosis in that organism. All 11 human Neks have been functionally assigned to one of the three core functions established for this family in mammals: (1) centrioles/mitosis; (2) primary ciliary function/ciliopathies; and (3) DNA damage response (DDR). Recent findings, especially on Nek 1 and 8, showed however, that several Neks participate in parallel in at least two of these contexts: primary ciliary function and DDR. In the core section of this in-depth review, we report the current detailed functional knowledge on each of the 11 Neks. In the discussion, we return to the cross-connections among Neks and point out how our and other groups' functional and interactomics studies revealed that most Neks interact with protein partners associated with two if not all three of the functional contexts. We then raise the hypothesis that Neks may be the connecting regulatory elements that allow the cell to fine tune and synchronize the cellular events associated with these three core functions. The new and exciting findings on the Nek family open new perspectives and should allow the Neks to finally claim the attention they deserve in the field of kinases and cell cycle biology.
Project description:The NIMA-related serine/threonine kinases (Neks) function in the cell cycle and regulate ciliary and flagellar length. The Giardia lamblia genome encodes 198 Neks, of which 56 are predicted to be active. Here we believe that we report the first functional analysis of two G. lamblia Neks. The GlNek1 and GlNek2 kinase domains share 57% and 43% identity to the kinase domains of human Nek1 and Nek2, respectively. Both GlNeks are active in vitro, have dynamic relocalisation during the cell cycle, and are expressed throughout the life cycle, with GlNek1 being upregulated in cysts. Over-expression of inactive GlNek1 delays disassembly of the parental attachment disc and cytokinesis, whilst over-expression of either wild type GlNek1 or inactive mutant GlNek2 inhibits excystation.
Project description:Mutations in Nek1 (NIMA-Related Kinase 1) are causal in the murine models of polycystic kidney disease kat and kat2J. The Neks are known as cell cycle kinases, but recent work in protists has revealed that in addition to roles in the regulation of cell cycle progression, some Neks also regulate cilia. In most cells, cilia are disassembled prior to mitosis and are regenerated after cytokinesis. We propose that Neks participate in the coordination of ciliogenesis with cell cycle progression. Mammalian Nek1 is a candidate for this activity because renal cysts form in response to dysfunctional ciliary signalling.Here we report that over-expression of full-length mNek1 inhibited ciliogenesis without disrupting centrosomes in the murine renal epithelial cell line IMCD3. In contrast, over-expression of the kinase domain with its associated basic region, but without the acidic domain, caused loss of centrosomes. As expected, these cells also failed to grow cilia. Both defective ciliogenesis in response to too much mNek1 and disassembly of centrosomes in response to expression of the kinase lacking the presumptive regulatory domain was abrogated by kinase-inactivating mutations or by removal of the coiled-coil domain. We observed that kinase-inactive, C-terminal truncations of mNek1 retaining the coiled-coil domain localized to the cilium, and we define a ciliary targeting region within the coiled-coil domain.Based on our data, we propose that Nek1 plays a role in centrosome integrity, affecting both ciliogenesis and centrosome stability.
Project description:NIMA-related kinase 1 (NEK1) is a serine/threonine and tyrosine kinase that is highly expressed in mammalian germ cells. Mutations in Nek1 induce anemia, polycystic kidney and infertility. In this study we evaluated the role of NEK1 in meiotic spindle formation in both male and female gametes. Our results show that the lack of NEK1 provokes an abnormal organization of the meiosis I spindle characterized by elongated and/or multipolar spindles, and abnormal chromosome congression. The aberrant spindle structure is concomitant with the disruption in localization and protein levels of myosin X (MYO10) and ?-adducin (ADD1), both of which are implicated in the regulation of spindle formation during mitosis. Interaction of ADD1 with MYO10 is dependent on phosphorylation, whereby phosphorylation of ADD1 enables its binding to MYO10 on mitotic spindles. Reduction in ADD1 protein in NEK1 mutant mice is associated with hyperphosphorylation of ADD1, thereby preventing the interaction with MYO10 during meiotic spindle formation. Our results reveal a novel regulatory role for NEK1 in the regulation of spindle architecture and function during meiosis.
Project description:Polycystic kidney disease and related syndromes involve dysregulation of cell proliferation in conjunction with ciliary defects. The relationship between cilia and cell cycle is enigmatic, but it may involve regulation by the NIMA-family of kinases (Neks). We previously showed that the Nek Fa2p is important for ciliary function and cell cycle in Chlamydomonas. We now show that Fa2p localizes to an important regulatory site at the proximal end of cilia in both Chlamydomonas and a mouse kidney cell line. Fa2p also is associated with the proximal end of centrioles. Its localization is dynamic during the cell cycle, following a similar pattern in both cell types. The cell cycle function of Fa2p is kinase independent, whereas its ciliary function is kinase dependent. Mice with mutations in Nek1 or Nek8 have cystic kidneys; therefore, our discovery that a member of this phylogenetic group of Nek proteins is localized to the same sites in Chlamydomonas and kidney epithelial cells suggests that Neks play conserved roles in the coordination of cilia and cell cycle progression.
Project description:The protein kinase NIMA is an indispensable pleiotropic regulator of mitotic progression in Aspergillus. Although several mammalian NIMA-like kinases (Neks) are known, none appears to have the broad importance for mitotic regulation attributed to NIMA. Nercc1 is a new NIMA-like kinase that regulates chromosome alignment and segregation in mitosis. Its NIMA-like catalytic domain is followed by a noncatalytic tail containing seven repeats homologous to those of the Ran GEF, RCC1, a Ser/Thr/Pro-rich segment, and a coiled-coil domain. Nercc1 binds to another NIMA-like kinase, Nek6, and also binds specifically to the Ran GTPase through both its catalytic and its RCC1-like domains, preferring RanGDP in vivo. Nercc1 exists as a homooligomer and can autoactivate in vitro by autophosphorylation. Nercc1 is a cytoplasmic protein that is activated during mitosis and is avidly phosphorylated by active p34(Cdc2). Microinjection of anti-Nercc1 antibodies in prophase results in spindle abnormalities and/or chromosomal misalignment. In Ptk2 cells the outcome is prometaphase arrest or aberrant chromosome segregation and aneuploidy, whereas in CFPAC-1 cells prolonged arrest in prometaphase is the usual response. Nercc1 and its partner Nek6 represent a new signaling pathway that regulates mitotic progression.
Project description:The NIMA-related kinases (Neks) are widespread among eukaryotes. In mammalians they represent an evolutionarily conserved family of 11 serine/threonine kinases, with 40-45% amino acid sequence identity to the Aspergillus nidulans mitotic regulator NIMA within their catalytic domains. Neks have cell cycle-related functions and were recently described as related to pathologies, particularly cancer, consisting in potential chemotherapeutic targets. Human Nek6, -7 and -9 are involved in the control of mitotic spindle formation, acting together in a mitotic kinase cascade, but their mechanism of regulation remain elusive.In this study we performed a biophysical and structural characterization of human Nek6 with the aim of obtaining its low resolution and homology models. SAXS experiments showed that hNek6 is a monomer of a mostly globular, though slightly elongated shape. Comparative molecular modeling together with disorder prediction analysis also revealed a flexible disordered N-terminal domain for hNek6, which we found to be important to mediate interactions with diverse partners. SEC-MALS experiments showed that hNek6 conformation is dependent on its activation/phosphorylation status, a higher phosphorylation degree corresponding to a bigger Stokes radius. Circular dichroism spectroscopy confirmed our in silico predictions of secondary structure content and thermal stability shift assays revealed a slightly higher stability of wild-type hNek6 compared to the activation loop mutant hNek6(S206A).Our data present the first low resolution 3D structure of hNek6 protein in solution. SAXS, comparative modeling and SEC-MALS analysis revealed that hNek6 is a monomeric kinase of slightly elongated shape and a short unfolded N-terminal domain.
Project description:The G2-M transition in Aspergillus nidulans requires the NIMA kinase, the founding member of the Nek kinase family. Inactivation of NIMA results in a late G2 arrest, while overexpression of NIMA is sufficient to promote mitotic events independently of cell cycle phase. Endogenously tagged NIMA-GFP has dynamic mitotic localizations appearing first at the spindle pole body and then at nuclear pore complexes before transitioning to within nuclei and the mitotic spindle and back at the spindle pole bodies at mitotic exit, suggesting that it functions sequentially at these locations. Since NIMA is indispensable for mitotic entry, it has been difficult to determine the requirement of NIMA for subaspects of mitosis. We show here that when NIMA is partially inactivated, although mitosis can be initiated, a proportion of cells fail to successfully generate two daughter nuclei. We further define the mitotic defects to show that normal NIMA function is required for the formation of a bipolar spindle, nuclear pore complex disassembly, completion of chromatin segregation, and the normal structural rearrangements of the nuclear envelope required to generate two nuclei from one. In the remaining population of cells that enter mitosis with inadequate NIMA, two daughter nuclei are generated in a manner dependent on the spindle assembly checkpoint, indicating highly penetrant defects in mitotic progression without sufficient NIMA activity. This study shows that NIMA is required not only for mitotic entry but also sequentially for successful completion of stage-specific mitotic events.