The NDR/LATS family kinase Cbk1 directly controls transcriptional asymmetry

PLoS Biol. 2008 Aug 19;6(8):e203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060203.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fungal Proteins / physiology*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein Transport
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • ACE2 protein, S cerevisiae
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • CBK1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases