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Chan, Ho Yee (2007): Exploring the regulation and function of human Lats1 and Aurora A kinases in mitosis. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Biology
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Abstract

Mitosis is the process by which sister chromatids are equally segregated into two daughter cells. Tight control in various events during mitotic progression is essential for maintaining chromosome stability. Mitotic kinases including Cyclin dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) and Aurora family are required for regulating proper mitotic progression by phosphorylating mitotic substrates thereby, controlling their activities, localization or abundance. On the other hand, these mitotic kinases are modulated by de-novo synthesis, activators, phosphorylation and ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. A thorough understanding of the function and regulation of mitotic kinases could further our knowledge on mitotic progression. In the first part of the thesis, we investigated the expression, localization and regulation of human Lats1 kinase, which is a close homologue of the yeast Dbf2 kinase family involved in the mitotic exit network (MEN). Despite the fact that Lats1 has been suggested to be a spindle protein that binds and inactivates Cdk1, we found that Lats1 is mainly cytoplasmic throughout the cell cycle by immunofluorescence microscopy. Both yeast two-hybrid and coimmunoprecipitation showed no significant interaction between Lats1 and Cdk1. Although Lats1 was highly phosphorylated during mitosis, no detectable kinase activity was observed. However, we identified Ste20 like kinase MST2 as the upstream regulator of human Lats1. Phosphorylation of Lats1 by Mst2 resulted in the activation of Lats1 kinase activity both in vivo and in vitro. This kinase-substrate relation was proven to be specific, as another distant Mst2 homolog, Mst4, did not possess this ability. Subsequent mass-spectrometry-based phosphosites analysis revealed that Mst2 phosphorylates Lats1 on more than five residues. Alanine mutations on Lats1T1079 and S909 impaired Lats1 kinase activity. Thus, we could not confirm the suggested role of Lat1 in mitosis. Instead, we show that similar to its Drosophila ortholog, Lats1 is involved in the Mst2 signaling pathway and might control developmentally regulated cell proliferation and apoptosis in mammals. In the second part of this thesis, we characterized hBora, a novel Aurora A interactor originally found in Drosophila. We show that hBora is upregulated and phosphorylated during mitosis. siRNA-mediated knockdown of hBora led to spindle formation defects and aneuploidy. hBora overexpression caused monoastral spindle formation and mislocalization not only of Aurora A but also Plk1. Further investigations showed that Cdk1 phosphorylation on hBoraSer252 leads to Plk1 binding and this may promote the SCF-mediated proteolysis of hBora. Indeed, Plk1 depletion led to an increase in hBora levels. Interestingly, the co-depletion of both hBora and Plk1 (to lower hBora levels in Plk1 depleted cells) rescued the localization of Aurora A to the centrosomes and bipolar spindle formation. Thus, we propose that hBora is a functional link between Plk1 and Aurora A and that by modulating the proteolysis of hBora, Plk1 could regulate Aurora A localization and activity. At the end, we also investigated the function of Aurora A and could show that Aurora A is required for centriole cohesion and centrosome separation.