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J Cell Sci June 1, 2000; 113 ( Pt 11) 1973-84.

The NIMA-related kinase X-Nek2B is required for efficient assembly of the zygotic centrosome in Xenopus laevis.

Fry AM , Descombes P , Twomey C , Bacchieri R , Nigg EA .

Nek2 is a mammalian cell cycle-regulated serine/threonine kinase that belongs to the family of proteins related to NIMA of Aspergillus nidulans. Functional studies in diverse species have implicated NIMA-related kinases in G(2)/M progression, chromatin condensation and centrosome regulation. To directly address the requirements for vertebrate Nek2 kinases in these cell cycle processes, we have turned to the biochemically-tractable system provided by Xenopus laevis egg extracts. Following isolation of a Xenopus homologue of Nek2, called X-Nek2B, we found that X-Nek2B abundance and activity remained constant through the first mitotic cycle implying a fundamental difference in Nek2 regulation between embryonic and somatic cell cycles. Removal of X-Nek2B from extracts did not disturb either entry into mitosis or the accompanying condensation of chromosomes providing no support for a requirement for Nek2 in these processes at least in embryonic cells. In contrast, X-Nek2B localized to centrosomes of adult Xenopus cells and was rapidly recruited to the basal body of Xenopus sperm following incubation in egg extracts. Recruitment led to phosphorylation of the X-Nek2B kinase. Most importantly, depletion of X-Nek2B from extracts significantly delayed both the assembly of microtubule asters and the recruitment of gamma-tubulin to the basal body. Hence, these studies demonstrate that X-Nek2B is required for efficient assembly of a functional zygotic centrosome and highlight the possibility of multiple roles for vertebrate Nek2 kinases in the centrosome cycle.

PubMed ID: 10806108
Article link: J Cell Sci

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: nek2 tubg1