Asterless is a Polo-like kinase 4 substrate that both activates and inhibits kinase activity depending on its phosphorylation state

Cody J. Boese, Jonathan Nye, Daniel W. Buster, Tiffany A. McLamarrah, Amy E. Byrnes, Kevin C. Slep, Nasser M. Rusan, Gregory C. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Centriole assembly initiates when Polo-like kinase 4 (Plk4) interacts with a centriole "targeting-factor." In Drosophila, Asterless/Asl (Cep152 in humans) fulfills the targeting role. Interestingly, Asl also regulates Plk4 levels. The N-terminus of Asl (Asl-A; amino acids 1-374) binds Plk4 and promotes Plk4 self-destruction, although it is unclear how this is achieved. Moreover, Plk4 phosphorylates the Cep152 N-terminus, but the functional consequence is unknown. Here, we show that Plk4 phosphorylates Asl and mapped 13 phospho-residues in Asl-A. Nonphosphorylatable alanine (13A) and phosphomimetic (13PM) mutants did not alter Asl function, presumably because of the dominant role of the Asl C-terminus in Plk4 stabilization and centriolar targeting. To address how Asl-A phosphorylation specifically affects Plk4 regulation, we generated Asl-A fragment phospho-mutants and expressed them in cultured Drosophila cells. Asl-A-13A stimulated kinase activity by relieving Plk4 autoinhibition. In contrast, Asl-A-13PM inhibited Plk4 activity by a novel mechanism involving autophosphorylation of Plk4's kinase domain. Thus, Asl-A's phosphorylation state determines which of Asl-A's two opposing effects are exerted on Plk4. Initially, nonphosphorylated Asl binds Plk4 and stimulates its kinase activity, but after Asl is phosphorylated, a negative-feedback mechanism suppresses Plk4 activity. This dual regulatory effect by Asl-A may limit Plk4 to bursts of activity that modulate centriole duplication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2874-2886
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 15 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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