Conserved NIMA kinases regulate multiple steps of endocytic trafficking

Braveen B. Joseph, Naava Naslavsky, Shaonil Binti, Sylvia Conquest, Lexi Robison, Ge Bai, Rafael O. Homer, Barth D. Grant, Steve Caplan, David, S. Fay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Human NIMA-related kinases have primarily been studied for their roles in cell cycle progression (NEK1/2/6/7/9), checkpoint-DNA-damage control (NEK1/2/4/5/10/11), and ciliogenesis (NEK1/4/8). We previously showed that Caenorhabditis elegans NEKL-2 (NEK8/9 homolog) and NEKL-3 (NEK6/7 homolog) regulate apical clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) in the worm epidermis and are essential for molting. Here we show that NEKL-2 and NEKL-3 also have distinct roles in controlling endosome function and morphology. Specifically, loss of NEKL-2 led to enlarged early endosomes with long tubular extensions but showed minimal effects on other compartments. In contrast, NEKL-3 depletion caused pronounced defects in early, late, and recycling endosomes. Consistently, NEKL-2 was strongly localized to early endosomes, whereas NEKL-3 was localized to multiple endosomal compartments. Loss of NEKLs also led to variable defects in the recycling of two resident cargoes of the trans-Golgi network (TGN), MIG-14/Wntless and TGN-38/TGN38, which were missorted to lysosomes after NEKL depletion. In addition, defects were observed in the uptake of clathrin-dependent (SMA-6/Type I BMP receptor) and independent cargoes (DAF-4/Type II BMP receptor) from the basolateral surface of epidermal cells after NEKL-2 or NEKL-3 depletion. Complementary studies in human cell lines further showed that siRNA knockdown of the NEKL-3 orthologs NEK6 and NEK7 led to missorting of the mannose 6-phosphate receptor from endosomes. Moreover, in multiple human cell types, depletion of NEK6 or NEK7 disrupted both early and recycling endosomal compartments, including the presence of excess tubulation within recycling endosomes, a defect also observed after NEKL-3 depletion in worms. Thus, NIMA family kinases carry out multiple functions during endocytosis in both worms and humans, consistent with our previous observation that human NEKL-3 orthologs can rescue molting and trafficking defects in C. elegans nekl-3 mutants. Our findings suggest that trafficking defects could underlie some of the proposed roles for NEK kinases in human disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1010741
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Conserved NIMA kinases regulate multiple steps of endocytic trafficking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this