The Non-canonical Function and Regulation of TBK1 in the Cell Cycle


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Virginia Tech


Protein kinases play essential roles in orchestrating almost every step during mitosis. Aberrant kinase activity often leads to errors in the cell cycle progression which consequently becomes the underlying cause for developmental defects or abnormal cell proliferation leading to cancer. Tank Binding Kinase 1 (TBK1) is overexpressed in certain cancer types and is activated on the centrosomes during mitosis. Loss of TBK1 impairs cell division resulting in growth defects and the accumulation of multinucleated cells. Therefore, proper activation and localization of TBK1 are essential for mitotic progression. Yet, the upstream regulation of TBK1 and the function of activated TBK1 on the centrosomes is unknown. Also, the cause and consequences of overexpression of TBK1 in cancers remain to be explored. Activation of TBK1 depends on its binding to an adaptor protein which induces a conformational change leading to trans autophoshorylation on serine 172 of its kinase domain. We identified that an established innate immune response protein, NAK Associated Protein1 (NAP1/AZI2), is the adaptor required for binding and activating TBK1 during mitosis. Loss of either NAP1 or TBK1 results in the accumulation of binucleated and multinucleated cells, possibly due to several mitotic and cytokinetic defects seen in these knockout (KO) cells. We establish NAP1 as a cell cycle regulated protein which colocalizes with activated TBK1 on the centrosomes during mitosis. Furthermore, by performing an unbiased quantitative phosphoproteomics analysis during mitosis, the substrates discovered reveal that TBK1 also regulates other known cell cycle regulating kinases such as Aurora A and Aurora B. TBK1 is also an established autophagy protein and since the autophagy machinery is often impaired or remodeled to facilitate rapid cell division, we evaluated the underlying connection between TBK1 activation and autophagy. The data shows that cells lacking the essential autophagy proteins FIP200 or ATG9A exhibit overactivation and mislocalization of TBK1. By using both genetic and pharmacological inhibition of autophagy processes, we found that impaired autophagy leads to a significantly higher number of micronuclei – a hallmark for tumorigenesis that correlates with defects in mitosis and cytokinesis. Taken together our work has uncovered a novel function for the NAP1-TBK1 complex during mitosis and establishes that overactivation and mislocalization of TBK1 is a direct consequence of impaired autophagy which causes micronuclei formation.



Mitosis, Cell cycle, NAP1, TBK1