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Regulation of Op18 during Spindle Assembly in Xenopus Egg Extracts


Oncoprotein 18 (Op18) is a microtubule-destabilizing protein that is negatively regulated by phosphorylation. To evaluate the role of the three Op18 phosphorylation sites in Xenopus (Ser 16, 25, and 39), we added wild-type Op18, a nonphosphorylatable triple Ser to Ala mutant (Op18-AAA), and to mimic phosphorylation, a triple Ser to Glu mutant (Op18-EEE) to egg extracts and monitored spindle assembly. Op18-AAA dramatically decreased microtubule length and density, while Op18-EEE did not significantly affect spindle microtubules. Affinity chromatography with these proteins revealed that the microtubule-destabilizing activity correlated with the ability of Op18 to bind tubulin. Since hyperphosphorylation of Op18 is observed upon addition of mitotic chromatin to extracts, we reasoned that chromatin-associated proteins might play a role in Op18 regulation. We have performed a preliminary characterization of the chromatin proteins recruited to DNA beads, and identified the Xenopus polo-like kinase Plx1 as a chromatin-associated kinase that regulates Op18 phosphorylation. Depletion of Plx1 inhibits chromatin-induced Op18 hyperphosphorylation and spindle assembly in extracts. Therefore, Plx1 may promote microtubule stabilization and spindle assembly by inhibiting Op18.

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