Playing polo during mitosis: PLK1 takes the lead

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Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), the prototypical member of the polo-like family of serine/threonine kinases, is a pivotal regulator of mitosis and cytokinesis in eukaryotes. Many layers of regulation have evolved to target PLK1 to different subcellular structures and to its various mitotic substrates in line with its numerous functions during mitosis. Collective work is starting to illuminate an important set of substrates for PLK1: the mitotic kinases that together ensure the fidelity of the cell division process. Amongst these, recent developments argue that PLK1 regulates the activity of the histone kinases Aurora B and Haspin to define centromere identity, of MPS1 to initiate spindle checkpoint signaling, and of BUB1 and its pseudokinase paralog BUBR1 to coordinate spindle checkpoint activation and inactivation. Here, we review the recent work describing the regulation of these kinases by PLK1. We highlight common themes throughout and argue that a major mitotic function of PLK1 is as a master regulator of these key kinases.

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