Mechanisms underlying Plk1 polo-box domain-mediated biological processes and their physiological significance

Mol Cells. 2014 Apr;37(4):286-94. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2014.0002. Epub 2014 Apr 7.


Mammalian polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) has been studied intensively as a key regulator of various cell cycle events that are critical for proper M-phase progression. The polobox domain (PBD) present in Plk1's C-terminal noncatalytic region has been shown to play a central role in targeting the N-terminal kinase domain of Plk1 to specific subcellular locations. Subsequent studies reveal that PBD binds to a phosphorylated motif generated by one of the two mechanisms-self-priming by Plk1 itself or non-selfpriming by a Pro-directed kinase, such as Cdc2. Here, we comparatively review the differences in the biochemical steps of these mechanisms and discuss their physiological significance. Considering the diverse functions of Plk1 during the cell cycle, a better understanding of how the catalytic activity of Plk1 functions in concert with its cisacting PBD and how this coordinated process is intricately regulated to promote Plk1 functions will be important for providing new insights into different mechanisms underlying various Plk1-mediated biological events that occur at the multiple stages of the cell cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Humans
  • Mitosis*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • Protein Transport
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • polo-like kinase 1
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase