We previously reported that Nek11, a member of the NIMA (never-in-mitosis A) family of kinases, is activated in G1/S-arrested cells. We provide herein several lines of evidence for a novel interaction between Nek11 and Nek2A. Both Nek11 and Nek2A, but not Nek2B, were detected at nucleoli, and the Nek2A-specific C-terminal end (amino acids 399-445) was responsible for nucleolar localization. Endogenous Nek11 coimmunoprecipitated with endogenous Nek2A, and non-catalytic regions of each kinase were involved in the complex formation. Nek11L interacted with phosphorylated Nek2A but barely with the kinase-inactive Nek2A (K37R) mutant. In addition, both Nek2A autophosphorylation activity and the Nek11L-Nek2A complex formation increased in G 1/S-arrested cells. These results indicate that autophosphorylation of Nek2A could stimulate its interaction with Nek11L at the nucleolus. Moreover, Nek2 directly phosphorylated Nek11 in the C-terminal non-catalytic region and elevated Nek11 kinase activity. The non-catalytic region of Nek11 showed autoinhibitory activity through intramolecular interaction with its N-terminal catalytic domain. Nek2 dissociated this autoinhibitory interaction. Altogether, our studies demonstrate a unique mechanism of Nek11 activation by Nek2A in G1/S-arrested cells and suggest a novel possibility for nucleolar function of the NIMA family.
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