Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is an essential protein kinase that promotes faithful mitotic progression in eukaryotes. The subcellular localization and substrate interactions of Plk1 are tightly controlled and require its binding to phosphorylated residues. To identify phosphorylation-dependent interactions within the Plk1 network in human mitotic cells, we performed quantitative proteomics on HeLa cells cultured with kinase inhibitors or expressing a Plk1 mutant that was deficient in phosphorylation-dependent substrate binding. We found that many interactions were abolished upon kinase inhibition; however, a subset was protected from phosphatase opposition or was unopposed, resulting in persistent interaction of the substrate with Plk1. This subset includes phosphoprotein phosphatase 6 (PP6), whose activity toward Aurora kinase A (Aurora A) was inhibited by Plk1. Our data suggest that this Plk1-PP6 interaction generates a feedback loop that coordinates and reinforces the activities of Plk1 and Aurora A during mitotic entry and is terminated by the degradation of Plk1 during mitotic exit. Thus, we have identified a mechanism for the previously puzzling observation of the Plk1-dependent regulation of Aurora A.
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