Upon exposure to genotoxic stress, the c-Abl tyrosine kinase is released from cytoplasmic 14-3-3 proteins and then is targeted to the nucleus. Phosphorylation of Thr735 in c-Abl is critical for binding to 14-3-3; however, kinases responsible for this phosphorylation are unknown. Here, we identify CLK1, CLK4, MST1, MST2 and TTK (also known as Mps1) as novel Thr735 kinasesin vitroby expression cloning strategy using phosphospecific antibody. We also demonstrate that ectopic expression of these kinases is capable for phosphorylation of Thr735 in cells. Importantly, upon exposure to oxidative stress, phosphorylation of Thr735 is transiently upregulated, and the status of this phosphorylation remains unchanged in cells silenced for CLK1, CLK4, MST1 or MST2. By contrast, knockdown of TTK attenuates phosphorylation of Thr735, suggesting that TTK is a physiological kinase that phosphorylates Thr735. In concert with these results, we show that, in cells silenced for TTK, c-Abl is accumulated in the nucleus even in unstressed condition and no further targeting into the nucleus occurs after oxidative stress. Moreover, nuclear entrapment of c-Abl by knocking down TTK enhances oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. These findings provide evidence that TTK phosphorylates c-Abl at Thr735 and that this phosphorylation is of importance to the cytoplasmic sequestration of c-Abl.
Oncogene (2008) 27, 7285-7295; doi:10.1038/onc.2008.334; published online 15 September 2008