Expression of the noncatalytic domain of the NIMA kinase causes a G2 arrest in Aspergillus nidulans.
Temperature-sensitive mutation of the nimA gene of Aspergillus nidulans causes a reversible G2 arrest, whereas overexpression of nimA causes premature entry into mitosis from which the cells cannot exit. The nimA gene encodes a Ser/Thr-specific protein kinase (NIMA) which contains an extended COOH-terminal noncatalytic domain. To evaluate the role of this enzyme in nuclear division control, we introduced various mutant nimA cDNAs under the control of the inducible alcohol dehydrogenase gene promoter into a strain of Aspergillus nidulans containing a temperature-sensitive nimA mutation (nimA5). While expression of the wild type NIMA complemented the nimA5 mutation and induced a premature mitotic arrest when overexpressed, expression of a kinase-negative NIMA containing a single amino acid mutation in the putative ATP-binding site could not rescue the nimA5 mutation but resulted in a specific G2 arrest when overexpressed. An identical phenotype was observed with cells expressing only the noncatalytic COOH-terminal domain of NIMA, whereas overexpression of the inactive kinase domain was without effect. The G2 arrest produced by overexpression of the full-length inactive or COOH-terminal NIMA molecules did not prevent activation of the endogenous NIMA or H1 kinase activity precipitable by p13 beads. We suggest that this dominant-negative phenotype results from competitive inhibition of the association of active NIMA with a cellular target(s) and that appropriate targeting is essential for the mitotic function of the NIMA kinase.
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