• Role of NEK1 in VHL and Cell Cycle Regulation

      Patil, Mallikarjun; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2013)
      Nekl is the member of NIMA (Never in mitosis gene A) related protein kinase family that is widely expressed in mammals. Nekl is an essential protein because loss of function in Nekl gene causes polycystic kidney disease in mice, which is similar to ADPKD (Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease) in humans. In Humans Nekl mutations also cause short rib polydactyl syndrome characterized by renal cysts and other developmental defects. At the cellular level Nekl thought to regulate ciliogenesis, centrosome duplication and DNA damage response.Nekl mutations leading to PKD have long been attributed to its role in ciliogenesis. Interestingly, VHL (Von hippel lindau) protein a known tumor suppressor is also involved in ciliogenesis.VHL mutations cause cystic kidney disease and renal clear cell carcinoma. Since Nekl and VHL are involved in ciliogenesis and cystic kidney disease, my overall goal was to investigate if Nekl and VHL are part of common regulatory pathway and also to investigate the role of Nekl in cell cycle regulation. My results indicate that Nekl phosphorylates VHL and this has important role in cilia regulation. Nekl phosphorylates VHL on multiple sites and S168 of VHL a site phosphorylated by Nekl significantly affects its stability. Importantly renal cells expressing S168A VHL that cannot be phosphorylated by Nekl grow cilia that are resistant to serum stimulation and Nocodazole treatment. Surprisingly I also found that Nekl is an essential regulator of S phase. Nekl knockdown in HEK cells blocks cell cycle progression. Further characterization Nekl showed that Nekl is needed for S phase progression and DNA replication. Nekl deficient cells have replication stress and activate cell cycle check point. Nekl loads on to chromatin and this increases during replication stress. We have also identified that Nekl interacts with and affects Ku80 loading on to chromatin. These findings have provided novel insights into the Nekl functions, which help in understanding the pathophysiology and development of polycystic kidney disease in mice and short rib polydactyl syndrome mejawski in humans.