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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

The NIMA-family kinase, Nek1 affects the stability of centrosomes and ciliogenesis

Mark C White and Lynne M Quarmby*

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Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2008, 9:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-9-29

Published: 4 June 2008



Mutations in Nek1 (NIMA-Related Kinase 1) are causal in the murine models of polycystic kidney disease kat and kat2J. The Neks are known as cell cycle kinases, but recent work in protists has revealed that in addition to roles in the regulation of cell cycle progression, some Neks also regulate cilia. In most cells, cilia are disassembled prior to mitosis and are regenerated after cytokinesis. We propose that Neks participate in the coordination of ciliogenesis with cell cycle progression. Mammalian Nek1 is a candidate for this activity because renal cysts form in response to dysfunctional ciliary signalling.


Here we report that over-expression of full-length mNek1 inhibited ciliogenesis without disrupting centrosomes in the murine renal epithelial cell line IMCD3. In contrast, over-expression of the kinase domain with its associated basic region, but without the acidic domain, caused loss of centrosomes. As expected, these cells also failed to grow cilia. Both defective ciliogenesis in response to too much mNek1 and disassembly of centrosomes in response to expression of the kinase lacking the presumptive regulatory domain was abrogated by kinase-inactivating mutations or by removal of the coiled-coil domain. We observed that kinase-inactive, C-terminal truncations of mNek1 retaining the coiled-coil domain localized to the cilium, and we define a ciliary targeting region within the coiled-coil domain.


Based on our data, we propose that Nek1 plays a role in centrosome integrity, affecting both ciliogenesis and centrosome stability.