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The spindle checkpoint safeguards against chromosome loss during cell division by preventing anaphase onset until all chromosomes are attached to spindle microtubules. Checkpoint signal is generated at kinetochores, the primary attachment site on chromosomes for spindle microtubules. Mps1 kinase initiates checkpoint signaling by phosphorylating the kinetochore-localized scaffold protein Knl1 to create phospho-docking sites for Bub1/Bub3. Mps1 is widely conserved but is surprisingly absent in many nematode species. Here, we show that PLK-1, which targets a substrate motif similar to that of Mps1, functionally substitutes for Mps1 in C. elegans by phosphorylating KNL-1 to direct BUB-1/BUB-3 kinetochore recruitment. This finding led us to re-examine checkpoint initiation in human cells, where we found that Plk1 co-inhibition significantly reduced Knl1 phosphorylation and Bub1 kinetochore recruitment relative to Mps1 inhibition alone. Thus, the finding that PLK-1 functionally substitutes for Mps1 in checkpoint initiation in C. elegans uncovered a role for Plk1 in species that have Mps1. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Julien Espeut, Pablo Lara-Gonzalez, Mélanie Sassine, Andrew K Shiau, Arshad Desai, Ariane Abrieu. Natural Loss of Mps1 Kinase in Nematodes Uncovers a Role for Polo-like Kinase 1 in Spindle Checkpoint Initiation. Cell reports. 2015 Jul 7;12(1):58-65

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PMID: 26119738

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