The NDR/LATS family kinase Cbk1 directly controls transcriptional asymmetry

Emily Mazanka, Jess Alexander, Brian J. Yeh, Patrick Charoenpong, Drew M. Lowery, Michael Yaffe, Eric L. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Cell fate can be determined by asymmetric segregation of gene expression regulators. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the transcription factor Ace2 accumulates specifically in the daughter cell nucleus, where it drives transcription of genes that are not expressed in the mother cell. The NDR/LATS family protein kinase Cbk1 is required for Ace2 segregation and function. Using peptide scanning arrays, we determined Cbk1's phosphorylation consensus motif, the first such unbiased approach for an enzyme of this family, showing that it is a basophilic kinase with an unusual preference for histidine -5 to the phosphorylation site. We found that Cbk1 phosphorylates such sites in Ace2, and that these modifications are critical for Ace2's partitioning and function. Using proteins marked with GFP variants, we found that Ace2 moves from isotropic distribution to the daughter cell nuclear localization, well before cytokinesis, and that the nucleus must enter the daughter cell for Ace2 accumulation to occur. We found that Cbk1, unlike Ace2, is restricted to the daughter cell. Using both in vivo and in vitro assays, we found that two critical Cbk1 phosphorylations block Ace2's interaction with nuclear export machinery, while a third distal modification most likely acts to increase the transcription factor's activity. Our findings show that Cbk1 directly controls Ace2, regulating the transcription factor's activity and interaction with nuclear export machinery through three phosphorylation sites. Furthermore, Cbk1 exhibits a novel specificity that is likely conserved among related kinases from yeast to metazoans. Cbk1 is functionally restricted to the daughter cell, and cannot diffuse from the daughter to the mother. In addition to providing a mechanism for Ace2 segregation, these findings show that an isotropically distributed cell fate determinant can be asymmetrically partitioned in cytoplasmically contiguous cells through spatial segregation of a regulating protein kinase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere203
Pages (from-to)1778-1790
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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