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J Cell Sci. 2005 Nov 15;118(Pt 22):5161-9.

Caught Nek-ing: cilia and centrioles.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada.


The Nek family of cell-cycle kinases is widely represented in eukaryotes and includes numerous proteins that were described only recently and remain poorly characterized. Comparing Neks in the context of clades allows us to examine the question of whether microbial eukaryotic Neks, although not strictly orthologs of their vertebrate counterparts, can provide clues to ancestral functions that might be retained in the vertebrate Neks. Relatives of the Nek2/NIMA proteins play important roles at the G2-M transition in nuclear envelope breakdown and centromere separation. Nek6, Nek7 and Nek9 also seem to regulate mitosis. By contrast, Nek1 and Nek8 have been linked with polycystic kidney disease. Results of statistical analysis indicate that the family coevolved with centrioles that function as both microtubule-organizing centers and the basal bodies of cilia. This evolutionary perspective, taken together with functional studies of microbial Neks, provides new insights into the cellular roles of the proteins and disease with which some of them have been linked.

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