We previously demonstrated (Ookata et al., 1992, 1993) that the p34cdc2/cyclin B complex associates with microtubules in the mitotic spindle and premeiotic aster in starfish oocytes, and that microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) might be responsible for this interaction. In this study, we have investigated the mechanism by which p34cdc2 kinase associates with the microtubule cytoskeleton in primate tissue culture cells whose major MAP is known to be MAP4. Double staining of primate cells with anti-cyclin B and anti-MAP4 antibodies demonstrated these two antigens were colocalized on microtubules and copartitioned following two treatments that altered MAP4 distribution. Detergent extraction before fixation removed cyclin B as well as MAP4 from the microtubules. Depolymerization of some of the cellular microtubules with nocodazole preferentially retained the microtubule localization of both cyclin B and MAP4. The association of p34cdc2/cyclin B kinase with microtubules was also shown biochemically to be mediated by MAP4. Cosedimentation of purified p34cdc2/cyclin B with purified microtubule proteins containing MAP4, but not with MAP-free microtubules, as well as binding of MAP4 to GST-cyclin B fusion proteins, demonstrated an interaction between cyclin B and MAP4. Using recombinant MAP4 fragments, we demonstrated that the Pro-rich C-terminal region of MAP4 is sufficient to mediate the cyclin B-MAP4 interaction. Since p34cdc2/cyclin B physically associated with MAP4, we examined the ability of the kinase complex to phosphorylate MAP4. Incubation of a ternary complex of p34cdc2, cyclin B, and the COOH-terminal domain of MAP4, PA4, with ATP resulted in intracomplex phosphorylation of PA4. Finally, we tested the effects of MAP4 phosphorylation on microtubule dynamics. Phosphorylation of MAP4 by p34cdc2 kinase did not prevent its binding to microtubules, but abolished its microtubule stabilizing activity. Thus, the cyclin B/MAP4 interaction we have described may be important in targeting the mitotic kinase to appropriate cytoskeletal substrates, for the regulation of spindle assembly and dynamics.

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