TPX2-LIKE PROTEIN3 Is the Primary Activator of {alpha}-Aurora Kinases and Is Essential for Embryogenesis

Aurora kinases are key regulators of mitosis. Multicellular eukaryotes generally possess two functionally diverged types of Aurora kinases. In plants, including Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), these are termed α- and β-Auroras. As the functional specification of Aurora kinases is determined by their specific interaction partners, we initiated interactomics analyses using both Arabidopsis α-Aurora kinases (AUR1 and AUR2). Proteomics results revealed that TPX2-LIKE PROTEINS2 and 3 (TPXL2/3) prominently associated with α-Auroras, as did the conserved TPX2 to a lower degree. Like TPX2, TPXL2 and TPXL3 strongly activated the AUR1 kinase but exhibited cell-cycle–dependent localization differences on microtubule arrays. The separate functions of TPX2 and TPXL2/3 were also suggested by their different influences on AUR1 localization upon ectopic expressions. Furthermore, genetic analyses showed that TPXL3, but not TPX2 and TPXL2, acts nonredundantly to enable proper embryo development. In contrast to vertebrates, plants have an expanded TPX2 family and these family members have both redundant and unique functions. Moreover, as neither TPXL2 nor TPXL3 contains the C-terminal Kinesin-5 binding domain present in the canonical TPX2, the targeting and activity of this kinesin must be organized differently in plants.

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