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Plant Cell. 2005 Mar;17(3):836-48. Epub 2005 Feb 18.

Identification and dynamics of two classes of aurora-like kinases in Arabidopsis and other plants.

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  • 1Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, D-06466 Gatersleben, Germany.


Aurora-like kinases play key roles in chromosome segregation and cytokinesis in yeast, plant, and animal systems. Here, we characterize three Arabidopsis thaliana protein kinases, designated AtAurora1, AtAurora2, and AtAurora3, which share high amino acid identities with the Ser/Thr kinase domain of yeast Ipl1 and animal Auroras. Structure and expression of AtAurora1 and AtAurora2 suggest that these genes arose by a recent gene duplication, whereas the diversification of plant alpha and beta Aurora kinases predates the origin of land plants. The transcripts and proteins of all three kinases are most abundant in tissues containing dividing cells. Intracellular localization of green fluorescent protein-tagged AtAuroras revealed an AtAurora-type specific association mainly with dynamic mitotic structures, such as microtubule spindles and centromeres, and with the emerging cell plate of dividing tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) BY-2 cells. Immunolabeling using AtAurora antibodies yielded specific signals at the centromeres that are coincident with histone H3 that is phosphorylated at Ser position10 during mitosis. An in vitro kinase assay demonstrated that AtAurora1 preferentially phosphorylates histone H3 at Ser 10 but not at Ser 28 or Thr 3, 11, and 32. The phylogenetic analysis of available Aurora sequences from different eukaryotic origins suggests that, although a plant Aurora gene has been duplicated early in the evolution of plants, the paralogs nevertheless maintained a role in cell cycle-related signal transduction pathways.

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