Characterization of a Novel Role for the Tousled- like Kinase in Kinetochore Assembly and Function in Caenorhabditis elegans
Date of Graduation
Genes and Development
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Jill M. Schumacher
Chromosome segregation is a critical step during cell division to avoid aneuploidy and promote proper organismal development. Correct sister chromatid positioning and separation during mitosis helps to achieve faithful transmission of genetic material to daughter cells. This prevents improper chromosome partitioning that can potentially result in extrachromosomal fragments, increasing the tumorigenic potential of the cells. The kinetochore is a protenaicious structure responsible for the initiation and orchestration of chromosome movement during mitosis. This highly conserved structure among eukaryotes is required for chromosome attachment to the mitotic spindle and failure to assemble the kinetochore results in aberrant chromosome segregation. Thus elucidating the mechanism of kinetochore assembly is important to have a better understanding of the regulation that controls chromosome segregation. Our previous work identified the C. elegans Tousled-like kinase (TLK-1) as a mitotic kinase and depletion of TLK-1 results in embryonic lethality, characterized by nuclei displaying poor mitotic chromosome alignment, lagging chromosome, and chromosome bridges during anaphase. Additionally, previous studies from our group revealed that TLK-1 is phosphorylated independently by Aurora B at serine 634, and by CHK-1 at threonine T610. The research presented herein reveals that both phosphorylated forms of TLK-1 associate with the kinetochore during mitosis. Moreover, by systematic depletion of kinetochore proteins, I uncovered that pTLK-1 is bona fide kinetochore component that is located at the outer kinetochore layer, influencing the microtubule-binding interface. I also demonstrated that TLK-1 is necessary for the kinetochore localization of the microtubule interacting proteins CLS-2 and LIS-1 and I show that embryos depleted of TLK-1 presented an aberrant twisted kinetochore pattern. Furthermore, I established that the inner kinetochore protein KNL-2 is an in vitro substrate of TLK-1 indicating a possible role of TLK-1 in regulating centromeric assembly. Collectively, these results suggest a novel role for the Tousled-like kinase in regulation of kinetochore assembly and microtubule dynamics and demonstrate the necessity of TLK-1 for proper chromosome segregation in C. elegans.
TLK-1, kinetochore, metaphase, chromosome segregation