Polo-like kinase 1 directs the AMPK-mediated activation of myosin regulatory light chain at the cytokinetic cleavage furrow independently of energy balance

Cell Cycle. 2012 Jul 1;11(13):2422-6. doi: 10.4161/cc.20438. Epub 2012 Jul 1.


It has been recently proposed that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) might indirectly promote the phosphorylation of MRLC (myosin II regulatory light chain) at Ser19 to regulate the transition from metaphase to anaphase and the completion of cytokinesis. Although these findings provide biochemical support for our earlier observations showing that the active form of the α catalytic AMPK subunit associates dynamically with essential mitotic regulators, several important issues remained unexplored. Does glucose starvation alter the ability of AMPK to bind to the mitotic apparatus and travel from centrosomes to the spindle midzone during mitosis and cytokinesis? Does AMPK activate MRLC exclusively at the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis? What is the mitosis-specific stimulus that activates the mito-cytokinetic AMPK/MRLC axis regardless of energy deprivation? First, we confirm that exogenous glucose deprivation fails to alter the previously described distribution of phospho-AMPKα(Thr172) in all of the mitotic phases and does not disrupt its apparent association with the mitotic spindle and other structures involved in cell division. Second, we establish for the first time that phospho-AMPKα(Thr172) colocalizes exclusively with Ser19-phosphorylated MRLC at the cleavage furrow of dividing cells, a previously unvisualized interaction between phospho-AMPKα(Thr172) and phospho-MRLC(Ser19) that occurs in cleavage furrows, intercellular bridges and the midbody during cell division that appears to occur irrespective of glucose availability. Third, we reveal for the first time that the inhibition of AMPK mitotic activity in response to PLK1 inhibition completely prevents the co-localization of phospho-AMPKα(Thr172) and phospho-MRLC(Ser19) during the final stages of cytokinesis and midbody ring formation. Because PLK1 inhibition efficiently suppresses the AMPK-mediated activation of MRLC at the cytokinetic cleavage furrow, we propose a previously unrecognized role for AMPK in ensuring that cytokinesis occurs at the proper place and time by establishing a molecular dialog between PLK1 and MRLC in an energy-independent manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / analysis
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytokinesis
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitosis
  • Myosin Light Chains / analysis
  • Myosin Light Chains / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Myosin Light Chains
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • polo-like kinase 1
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases