Phase separation of TPX2 enhances and spatially coordinates microtubule nucleation.
ABSTRACT: Phase separation of substrates and effectors is proposed to enhance biological reaction rates and efficiency. Targeting protein for Xklp2 (TPX2) is an effector of branching microtubule nucleation in spindles and functions with the substrate tubulin by an unknown mechanism. Here we show that TPX2 phase separates into a co-condensate with tubulin, which mediates microtubule nucleation in vitro and in isolated cytosol. TPX2-tubulin co-condensation preferentially occurs on pre-existing microtubules, the site of branching microtubule nucleation, at the endogenous and physiologically relevant concentration of TPX2. Truncation and chimera versions of TPX2 suggest that TPX2-tubulin co-condensation enhances the efficiency of TPX2-mediated branching microtubule nucleation. Finally, the known inhibitor of TPX2, the importin-?/? heterodimer, regulates TPX2 condensation in vitro and, consequently, branching microtubule nucleation activity in isolated cytosol. Our study demonstrates how regulated phase separation can simultaneously enhance reaction efficiency and spatially coordinate microtubule nucleation, which may facilitate rapid and accurate spindle formation.
Project description:TPX2 has multiple functions during mitosis, including microtubule nucleation around the chromosomes and the targeting of Xklp2 and Aurora A to the spindle. We have performed a detailed domain functional analysis of TPX2 and found that a large N-terminal domain containing the Aurora A binding peptide interacts directly with and nucleates microtubules in pure tubulin solutions. However, it cannot substitute the endogenous TPX2 to support microtubule nucleation in response to Ran guanosine triphosphate (GTP) and spindle assembly in egg extracts. By contrast, a large C-terminal domain of TPX2 that does not bind directly to pure microtubules and does not bind Aurora A kinase rescues microtubule nucleation in response to RanGTP and spindle assembly in TPX2-depleted extract. These and previous results suggest that under physiological conditions, TPX2 is essential for microtubule nucleation around chromatin and functions in a network of other molecules, some of which also are regulated by RanGTP.
Project description:Microtubules are nucleated from specific locations at precise times in the cell cycle. However, the factors that constitute these microtubule nucleation pathways and their mode of action still need to be identified. Using purified Xenopus laevis proteins we biochemically reconstitute branching microtubule nucleation, which is critical for chromosome segregation. We found that besides the microtubule nucleator gamma-tubulin ring complex (?-TuRC), the branching effectors augmin and TPX2 are required to efficiently nucleate microtubules from pre-existing microtubules. TPX2 has the unexpected capacity to directly recruit ?-TuRC as well as augmin, which in turn targets more ?-TuRC along the microtubule lattice. TPX2 and augmin enable ?-TuRC-dependent microtubule nucleation at preferred branching angles of less than 90 degrees from regularly-spaced patches along microtubules. This work provides a blueprint for other microtubule nucleation pathways and helps explain how microtubules are generated in the spindle.
Project description:TPX2 (Targeting Protein for Xklp2) is an evolutionary conserved microtubule-associated protein important for microtubule nucleation and mitotic spindle assembly. The protein was described as an activator of the mitotic kinase Aurora A in humans and the Arabidopsis AURORA1 (AUR1) kinase. In contrast to animal genomes that encode only one TPX2 gene, higher plant genomes encode a family with several TPX2-LIKE gene members (TPXL). TPXL genes of Arabidopsis can be divided into two groups. Group A proteins (TPXL2, 3, 4, and 8) contain Aurora binding and TPX2_importin domains, while group B proteins (TPXL1, 5, 6, and 7) harbor an Xklp2 domain. Canonical TPX2 contains all the above-mentioned domains. We confirmed using in vitro kinase assays that the group A proteins contain a functional Aurora kinase binding domain. Transient expression of Arabidopsis TPX2-like proteins in Nicotiana benthamiana revealed preferential localization to microtubules and nuclei. Co-expression of AUR1 together with TPX2-like proteins changed the localization of AUR1, indicating that these proteins serve as targeting factors for Aurora kinases. Taken together, we visualize the various localizations of the TPX2-LIKE family in Arabidopsis as a proxy to their functional divergence and provide evidence of their role in the targeted regulation of AUR1 kinase activity.
Project description:The mitotic spindle consists of microtubules (MTs), which are nucleated by the γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC). How the γ-TuRC gets activated at the right time and location remains elusive. Recently, it was uncovered that MTs nucleate from preexisting MTs within the mitotic spindle, which requires the protein TPX2, but the mechanism basis for TPX2 action is unknown. Here, we investigate the role of TPX2 in branching MT nucleation. We establish the domain organization of Xenopus laevis TPX2 and define the minimal TPX2 version that stimulates branching MT nucleation, which we find is unrelated to TPX2's ability to nucleate MTs in vitro. Several domains of TPX2 contribute to its MT-binding and bundling activities. However, the property necessary for TPX2 to induce branching MT nucleation is contained within newly identified γ-TuRC nucleation activator motifs. Separation-of-function mutations leave the binding of TPX2 to γ-TuRC intact, whereas branching MT nucleation is abolished, suggesting that TPX2 may activate γ-TuRC to promote branching MT nucleation.
Project description:The microtubules that comprise mitotic spindles in animal cells are nucleated at centrosomes and by spindle assembly factors that are activated in the vicinity of chromatin. Indirect evidence has suggested that microtubules also might be nucleated from pre-existing microtubules throughout the spindle, but this process has not been observed directly. Here, we demonstrate microtubule nucleation from the sides of existing microtubules in meiotic Xenopus egg extracts. Daughter microtubules grow at a low branch angle and with the same polarity as mother filaments. Branching microtubule nucleation requires ?-tubulin and augmin and is stimulated by factors previously implicated in chromatin-stimulated nucleation, guanosine triphosphate(GTP)-bound Ran and its effector, TPX2. Because of the rapid amplification of microtubule numbers and the preservation of microtubule polarity, microtubule-dependent microtubule nucleation is well suited for spindle assembly and maintenance.
Project description:Centrosome-mediated microtubule (MT) nucleation has been well characterized; however, numerous noncentrosomal MT nucleation mechanisms exist. The branching MT nucleation pathway envisages that the ?-tubulin ring complex (?-TuRC) is recruited to MTs by the augmin complex to initiate nucleation of new MTs. While the pathway is well conserved at a molecular and functional level, branching MT nucleation by core constituents has never been directly observed in animal cells. Here, multicolor TIRF microscopy was applied to visualize and quantitatively define the entire process of branching MT nucleation in dividing Drosophila cells during anaphase. The steps of a stereotypical branching nucleation event entailed augmin binding to a mother MT and recruitment of ?-TuRC after 15 s, followed by nucleation 16 s later of a daughter MT at a 36° branch angle. Daughters typically remained attached throughout their ?40-s lifetime unless the mother depolymerized past the branch point. Assembly of branched MT arrays, which did not require Drosophila TPX2, enhanced localized RhoA activation during cytokinesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:TPX2 (Targeting Protein for Xklp2) is essential for spindle assembly, activation of the mitotic kinase Aurora A and for triggering microtubule nucleation. Homologs of TPX2 in Chordata and plants were previously identified. Currently, proteins of the TPX2 family have little structural information and only small parts are covered by defined protein domains. METHODS:We have used computational sequence analyses and structural predictions of proteins of the TPX2 family, supported with Circular Dichroism (CD) measurements. RESULTS:Here, we report our finding that the C-terminal domain of TPX2, which is responsible of its microtubule nucleation capacity and is conserved in all members of the family, is actually formed by tandem repeats, covering well above 2/3 of the protein. We propose that this region forms a flexible solenoid involved in protein-protein interactions. Structural prediction and molecular modeling, combined with Circular Dichroism (CD) measurements reveal a predominant alpha-helical content. Furthermore, we identify full length homologs in fungi and shorter homologs with a different domain organization in diptera (including a paralogous expansion in Drosophila). CONCLUSIONS:Our results, represent the first computational and biophysical analysis of the TPX2 proteins family and help understand the structure and evolution of this conserved protein family to direct future structural studies.
Project description:TPX2, the targeting protein for Xenopus kinesin-like protein 2 (Xklp2), was identified as a microtubule-associated protein that mediates the binding of the COOH-terminal domain of Xklp2 to microtubules (Wittmann, T., H. Boleti, C. Antony, E. Karsenti, and I. Vernos. 1998. J. Cell Biol. 143:673-685). Here, we report the cloning and functional characterization of Xenopus TPX2. TPX2 is a novel, basic 82.4-kD protein that is phosphorylated during mitosis in a microtubule-dependent way. TPX2 is nuclear during interphase and becomes localized to spindle poles in mitosis. Spindle pole localization of TPX2 requires the activity of the dynein-dynactin complex. In late anaphase TPX2 becomes relocalized from the spindle poles to the midbody. TPX2 is highly homologous to a human protein of unknown function and thus defines a new family of vertebrate spindle pole components. We investigated the function of TPX2 using spindle assembly in Xenopus egg extracts. Immunodepletion of TPX2 from mitotic egg extracts resulted in bipolar structures with disintegrating poles and a decreased microtubule density. Addition of an excess of TPX2 to spindle assembly reactions gave rise to monopolar structures with abnormally enlarged poles. We conclude that, in addition to its function in targeting Xklp2 to microtubule minus ends during mitosis, TPX2 also participates in the organization of spindle poles.
Project description:Spindle assembly and function require precise control of microtubule nucleation and dynamics. The chromatin-driven spindle assembly pathway exerts such control locally in the vicinity of chromosomes. One of the key targets of this pathway is TPX2. The molecular mechanism of how TPX2 stimulates microtubule nucleation is not understood. Using microscopy-based dynamic in vitro reconstitution assays with purified proteins, we find that human TPX2 directly stabilizes growing microtubule ends and stimulates microtubule nucleation by stabilizing early microtubule nucleation intermediates. Human microtubule polymerase chTOG (XMAP215/Msps/Stu2p/Dis1/Alp14 homologue) only weakly promotes nucleation, but acts synergistically with TPX2. Hence, a combination of distinct and complementary activities is sufficient for efficient microtubule formation in vitro. Importins control the efficiency of the microtubule nucleation by selectively blocking the interaction of TPX2 with microtubule nucleation intermediates. This in vitro reconstitution reveals the molecular mechanism of regulated microtubule formation by a minimal nucleation module essential for chromatin-dependent microtubule nucleation in cells.
Project description:Targeting protein for Xklp2 (TPX2) activates the Ser/Thr kinase Aurora A in mitosis and targets it to the mitotic spindle [1, 2]. These effects on Aurora A are mediated by the N-terminal domain of TPX2, whereas a C-terminal fragment has been reported to affect microtubule nucleation . Using the Xenopus system, we identified a novel role of TPX2 during mitosis. Injection of TPX2 or its C terminus (TPX2-CT) into blastomeres of two-cell embryos led to potent cleavage arrest. Despite cleavage arrest, TPX2-injected embryos biochemically undergo multiple rounds of DNA synthesis and mitosis, and arrested blastomeres have abnormal spindles, clustered centrosomes, and an apparent failure of cytokinesis. In Xenopus S3 cells, transfection of TPX2-FL causes spindle collapse, whereas TPX2-CT blocks pole segregation, resulting in apposing spindle poles with no evident displacement of Aurora A. Analysis of TPX2-CT deletion peptides revealed that only constructs able to interact with the class 5 kinesin-like motor protein Eg5 induce the spindle phenotypes. Importantly, injection of Eg5 into TPX2-CT-arrested blastomeres causes resumption of cleavage. These results define a discrete domain within the C terminus of TPX2 that exerts a novel Eg5-dependent function in spindle pole segregation.