From poles to equator: functional analysis of DdAurora during mitosis and cytokinesis in Dictyostelium discoideum

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Li, Hui, 1976-

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The Aurora kinases are highly conserved serine/threonine kinases that play essential roles throughout mitosis. In metazoans, these functions are mediated by Aurora A and B at the spindle poles and the equatorial region respectively. I show here that Dictyostelium contains a single Aurora kinase, DdAurora that displays characteristics of both Aurora A and B. Like Aurora A, DdAurora has an extended N-terminal domain with an A-box and localizes to the spindle poles during early mitosis. Like Aurora B, DdAurora localizes to centromeres in metaphase, the central spindle during anaphase and the cleavage furrow at the end of cytokinesis. In addition to these known features of Aurora A and B, I found that DdAurora remains associated with centromeres during anaphase and telophase which has not been shown in any other organisms. INCENP is known to be an important binding partner of Aurora B. In Dictyostelium the conserved C-terminal IN-box domain of DdINCENP is essential for its interaction with DdAurora and for the localization of DdAurora to the central spindle. In contrast, the centromeric and spindle pole localization of DdAurora does not require an interaction with DdINCENP. Surprisingly, a truncated DdINCENP protein lacking the IN-box domain can still localize on centromeres and the central spindle even though it does not bind to DdAurora. I also found that the localization of DdAurora to the central spindle requires Kif12, a protein similar to mitotic kinesin like protein 2 (MKLP2). However, this requirement is suppressed by the overexpression of GFP-DdINCENP. GFP-DdINCENP can localize to the central spindle in the absence of Kif12 and it probably recruits DdAurora to the same location through their strong interaction. Finally, I demonstrated that Myosin II heavy chain is important for the proper localization of the DdAurora/DdINCENP complex to the cleavage furrow during late cytokinesis. With the exception of DdINCENP, no other binding partner or substrate of DdAurora has been identified in Dictyostelium. By performing large-scale immunoprecipitation in wild-type cells, I identified several potential binding partners/substrates of DdAurora, including topoisomerase B and HspA. Future esearch on these proteins may help to elucidate DdAurora function in different stages of M phase.