Structure, function, and evolution of plant NIMA-related kinases: implication for phosphorylation-dependent microtubule regulation

Shogo Takatani, Kento Otani, Mai Kanazawa, Taku Takahashi, Hiroyasu Motose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Microtubules are highly dynamic structures that control the spatiotemporal pattern of cell growth and division. Microtubule dynamics are regulated by reversible protein phosphorylation involving both protein kinases and phosphatases. Never in mitosis A (NIMA)-related kinases (NEKs) are a family of serine/threonine kinases that regulate microtubule-related mitotic events in fungi and animal cells (e.g. centrosome separation and spindle formation). Although plants contain multiple members of the NEK family, their functions remain elusive. Recent studies revealed that NEK6 of Arabidopsis thaliana regulates cell expansion and morphogenesis through β-tubulin phosphorylation and microtubule destabilization. In addition, plant NEK members participate in organ development and stress responses. The present phylogenetic analysis indicates that plant NEK genes are diverged from a single NEK6-like gene, which may share a common ancestor with other kinases involved in the control of microtubule organization. On the contrary, another mitotic kinase, polo-like kinase, might have been lost during the evolution of land plants. We propose that plant NEK members have acquired novel functions to regulate cell growth, microtubule organization, and stress responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-891
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Plant Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 9 2015



  • Cell division
  • Cell expansion
  • Microtubule
  • NIMA-related kinase
  • Phosphorylation
  • Tubulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

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