Worm Breeder's Gazette 15(1): 61 (October 1, 1997)
These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.
ABL-Basic Research Program, Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center,Frederick, MD 21702
A number of laboratories have recently described various members of a highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase family that appears to play a role in chromosome segregation and mitotic spindle dynamics in several different organisms (1,2,3,4). A search of the C. elegans genome database revealed that there are at least two nematode proteins that are highly related to this protein kinase family. We refer to these proteins as AIR-1 and AIR-2 (Aurora/Ipl-1 related). To date, the subcellular location of only one member of this protein kinase family has been reported (3,4). The mammalian protein Iak-1 has been shown to be associated with the centrosomes of the mitotic spindle in tissue culture cells and with meiotic chromosomes in mouse spermatocytes (J. Schumacher, unpublished). By performing immunocytochemistry experiments on fixed C. elegans embryos with antisera raised against specific peptides, we have found that the AIR-1 protein, like its mammalian counterpart, is also found on centrosomes in mitotic cells. The protein is first detectable on centrosomes of the first mitotic division following pronuclear fusion in the one-cell embryo. It is clearly associated with duplicated centrosomes prior to their migration to opposite sides of the nucleus and is found on mitotic centrosomes up to the limits of resolution in two-fold stage embryos. The location of the AIR-2 protein mimics that of Iak-1 in meiotic cells. Like Iak-1 in spermatocytes, AIR-2 is also found on chromosomes undergoing meiotic divisions both in oocytes and spermatocytes. AIR-2 staining is diffuse throughout the cellularized oocytes of the proximal gonad, but becomes localized to the chromosomes in the oocyte that resides next to the spermatheca. The protein persists on these chromosomes throughout meiosis and remains associated with polar body chromatin following these divisions. AIR-2 is also found on meiotic chromosomes during spermatogenesis in C. elegans males. In addition, it is associated with mature sperm present in the spermatheca, but at this stage it doesn!t appear to be localized to the chromatin. Instead, it appears to surround the sperm, suggesting an association with the cellular membrane. In embryos, diffuse AIR-2 staining is found in the cytoplasm, but is also clearly localized to mitotic metaphase chromosomes. The protein may be present on chromosomes at other stages of mitosis, but is difficult to detect on less condensed chromatin. By telophase, AIR-2 is clearly localized to midbody microtubules, and a small dot of staining persists on the cell membrane once cytokinesis is complete. To disrupt the function of each of these proteins during embryogenesis, we injected antisense RNA corresponding to the entire cDNA of each gene into the gonads of C. elegans hermaphrodites. Injection of either RNA resulted in embryonic lethality and the specific loss of each protein as detected by immunocytochemistry. AIR-1 deficient embryos die with greater than 100 cells and are severely aneuploid. Analysis of younger embryos revealed a variety of chromosome segregation defects ranging from the loss of a single chromosome to the missegregation of every chromosome to one daughter cell in a particular division. Some cells also appeared to be severely polyploid and contain multiple centrosomes, suggesting multiple cell cycles that lack an intervening mitotic division. Disruption of AIR-2 resulted in the production of one-cell embryos that contained many nuclei and centrosomes, as well as polar bodies that continue to replicate and divide. One-cell embryos containing anywhere from one to greater than 20 nuclei were found with equally abnormal numbers of centrosomes. This dramatic phenotype again suggests the uncoupling of DNA replication and centrosome duplication from the completion of mitosis. References: 1) Chan, C.S. and Botstein, D. (1993). Isolation and characterization of chromosome-gain and increase-in-ploidy mutants in yeast. Genetics 135, 677-691 2) Glover, D. M., Leibowitz, M. H., McLean, D. A., and Parry, H. (1995). Mutations in aurora prevent centrosome separation leading to the formation of monopolar spindles. Cell 81, 95-105. 3) Gopalan, G., Chan C.S., and Donovan P.J. (1997). A novel mammalian, mitotic spindle-associated kinase is related to yeast and fly chromosome segregation regulators. J Cell Biol 138, 643-656 4) Kimura, M., Kotani, S., Hattori, T., Sumi, N., Yoshioka, T., Todokoro, K., and Okano, Y. Cell cycle-dependent expression and spindle pole localization of a novel human protein kinase, Aik, related to Aurora of Drosophila and yeast Ipl1. J Biol Chem 272, 13766-13771 Research sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, DHHS, under contract with ABL.