Phosphorylation of mixed lineage kinase MLK3 by cyclin-dependent kinases CDK1 and CDK2 controls ovarian cancer cell division Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Cedeno-Rosario, Luis; Honda, David; Sunderland, Autumn; Lewandowski, Mark D; Taylor, William R; Chadee, Deborah N


  • Mixed lineage kinase 3 (MLK3) is a serine/threonine mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase that promotes the activation of multiple mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways and is required for invasion and proliferation of ovarian cancer cells. Inhibition of MLK activity causes G2/M arrest in HeLa cells; however, the regulation of MLK3 during ovarian cancer cell cycle progression is not known. Here, we found that MLK3 is phosphorylated in mitosis and that inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) prevented MLK3 phosphorylation. In addition, we observed that c-Jun N-terminal kinase, a downstream target of MLK3 and a direct target of MKK4 (SEK1), was activated in G2 phase when CDK2 activity is increased and then inactivated at the beginning of mitosis concurrent with the increase in CDK1 and MLK3 phosphorylation. Using in┬ávitro kinase assays and phosphomutants, we determined that CDK1 phosphorylates MLK3 on Ser548 and decreases MLK3 activity during mitosis, whereas CDK2 phosphorylates MLK3 on Ser770 and increases MLK3 activity during G1/S and G2 phases. We also found that MLK3 inhibition causes a reduction in cell proliferation and a cell cycle arrest in ovarian cancer cells, suggesting that MLK3 is required for ovarian cancer cell cycle progression. Taken together, our results suggest that phosphorylation of MLK3 by CDK1 and CDK2 is important for the regulation of MLK3 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase activities during G1/S, G2, and M phases in ovarian cancer cell division.

publication date

  • 2022

published in

start page

  • 102263


  • 298