Lists of Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Special Article

Dynamic Changes in Nuclear Architecture during Mitosis: On the Role of Protein Phosphorylation in Spindle Assembly and Chromosome Segregation

*Department of Molecular Biology, Sciences II, University of Geneva, 30, Quai Ernest-Ansermet, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland; and +Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC), 155, Chemin des Boveresses, CH-1066 Epalinges, Switzerland


During mitosis, the vertebrate cell nucleus undergoes profound changes in architecture. At the onset of mitosis, the nuclear envelope breaks down, the nuclear lamina is depolymerized, and interphase chromatin is condensed to chromosomes. Concomitantly, cytoplasmic microtubules are reorganized into a mitotic spindle apparatus, a highly dynamic structure required for the segregation of sister chromatids. Many of the above events are controlled by reversible phosphorylation. Hence, our laboratory is interested in characterizing the kinases involved in promoting progression through mitosis and in identifying their relevant substrates. Prominent among the kinases responsible for regulating entry into mitosis is the Cdc2 kinase, the first member of the cyclin dependent kinase (Cdk) family. Recently, we found that Cdc2 phosphorylates HsEg5, a human kinesin-related motor protein associated with centrosomes and the spindle apparatus. Our results indicate that phosphorylation regulates the association of HsEg5 with the mitotic spindle and that the function of this plus-end directed motor is essential for centrosome separation and bipolar spindle formation. Another kinase implicated in regulating progression through mitosis is Plk1 (pololike kinase 1), the human homologue of the Drosophila gene product "polo." By antibody microinjection we have found that Plk1 is required for the functional maturation of centrosomes and hence for entry into mitosis. Furthermore, we found that microinjected anti-Plk1 antibodies caused a more severe block to cell cycle progression in diploid fibroblasts than in immortalized tumor cells. This observation hints at the existence of a checkpoint linking Cdc2 activation to the presence of functional centrosomes.

174 - 180 ( 1996)
Copyright © 1996 Academic Press, Inc.


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