The γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC) is the principal nucleator of cellular microtubules, and the microtubule-nucleating activity of the complex is stimulated by binding to the γTuRC-mediated nucleation activator (γTuNA) motif. The γTuNA is part of the centrosomin motif 1 (CM1), which is widely found in γTuRC stimulators, including CDK5RAP2. Here, we show that a conserved segment within CM1 binds to the γTuNA and blocks its association with γTuRCs; therefore, we refer to this segment as the γTuNA inhibitor (γTuNA-In). Mutational disruption of the interaction between the γTuNA and the γTuNA-In results in a loss of autoinhibition, which consequently augments microtubule nucleation on centrosomes and the Golgi complex, the two major microtubule-organizing centers. This also causes centrosome repositioning, leads to defects in Golgi assembly and organization, and affects cell polarization. Remarkably, phosphorylation of the γTuNA-In, probably by Nek2, counteracts the autoinhibition by disrupting the γTuNA‒γTuNA-In interaction. Together, our data reveal an on-site mechanism for controlling γTuNA function.

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