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Exp Cell Res. 1997 Dec 15;237(2):264-74.

The in vivo expression pattern of mouse Nek2, a NIMA-related kinase, indicates a role in both mitosis and meiosis.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Sciences II, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


The human protein kinase Nek2 is related to the NIMA cell cycle regulatory kinase of Aspergillus nidulans. Whereas NIMA has been shown to be essential for cell cycle progression into mitosis in this fungus, the function of mammalian Nek2 remains to be elucidated. In this study, we isolated a cDNA coding for a mouse ortholog of human Nek2 and analyzed the expression of this kinase in different organs. RNase protection assays performed on RNAs from mouse adult organs showed very high expression of Nek2 in testis. Lower levels of transcripts were detected in intestine, thymus, and skin, three mitotically active organs, and whole-mount in situ hybridization performed on 10.5-day embryos allowed the detection of Nek2 transcripts in the brain. In situ hybridization analysis of testis sections revealed that the transcription of Nek2 occurred in a stage-specific manner during spermatogenesis. The strongest signals were seen in cells undergoing meiosis, but Nek2 transcripts could also be detected in haploid cells (stage I and II spermatids). Extending these results, in situ hybridization performed on ovary sections revealed strong signals in meiotically active oocytes. In addition, some Nek2 transcription was observed in actively dividing follicle cells surrounding the oocytes and in the oviduct. Finally, indirect immunofluorescence staining of testis sections with Nek2-specific antibodies confirmed that this kinase is highly expressed in spermatocytes and, to a lesser extent, in early spermatids. Taken together, these results indicate that Nek2 may play an important role not only during mitosis but also during meiosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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