Pak1 phosphorylation on T212 affects microtubules in cells undergoing mitosis
Prowse, David M.
The Pak kinases are targets of the Rho GTPases Rac and Cdc42, which regulate cell shape and motility [1-5]. It is increasingly apparent that part of this function is due to the effect Pak kinases have on microtubule organization and dynamics. Recently, overexpression of Xenopus Pak5 was shown to enhance microtubule stabilization, and it was shown that mammalian Pak1 may inhibit a microtubule-destabilizing protein, Op18/Stathmin [6, 7]. We have identified a specific phosphorylation site on mammalian Pak1, T212, which is targeted by the neuronal p35/Cdk5 kinase [8, 9]. Pak1 phosphorylated on T212, Pak1-T212(PO), is enriched in axonal growth cones and colocalizes with small peripheral bundles of microtubules. Cortical neurons overexpressing a Pak1A212 mutant display a tangled neurite morphology, which suggests that the microtubule cytoskeleton is affected . Here, we show that cyclin B1/Cdc2 phosphorylates Pak1 in cells undergoing mitosis. In the developing cortex and in cultured fibroblasts, Pak1T212(PO) is enriched in microtubule-organizing centers and along parts of the spindles. In living cells, a peptide mimicking phosphorylated T212 accumulates at the centrosomes and spindles and causes an increased length of astral microtubules during metaphase or following nocodazole washout. Together these results suggest that similar signaling pathways regulate microtubule dynamics in a remodeling axonal growth cone and during cell division.