How cell morphology and the cell cycle are coordinately regulated is a fundamental subject in cell biology. In fission yeast, 2 germinal center kinases (GCKs), Sid1 and Nak1, play an essential role in septation/cytokinesis and cell separation/cell polarity control, respectively, as components of the septation initiation network (SIN) and the morphogenesis Orb6 network (MOR). Here we show that a third GCK, Ppk11, is also required for efficient cell separation particularly, at a high temperature. Although Ppk11 is not essential for cell division, this kinase plays an auxiliary role in concert with MOR in cell morphogenesis. Ppk11 physically interacts with the MOR component Pmo25 and is localized to the septum, by which Ppk11 is crucial for Pmo25 targeting/accumulation to the septum. The conserved C-terminal WDF motif of Ppk11 is essential for both septum accumulation of Pmo25 and efficient cell separation. In contrast its kinase activity is required only for cell separation. Thus, both interaction of Ppk11 with Pmo25 and Ppk11 kinase activity are critical for efficient cell separation.
Stem cell biology offers advantages to investigators seeking to identify new therapeutic molecules. Specifically, stem cells are genetically stable, scalable for molecular screening, and function in cellular assays for drug efficacy and safety. A key hurdle for drug discoverers of central nervous system disease is a lack of high quality neuronal cells. In the central nervous system, α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) subtype glutamate receptors mediate the vast majority of excitatory neurotransmissions. Embryonic stem (ES) cell protocols were developed to differentiate into neuronal subtypes that express AMPA receptors and were pharmacologically responsive to standard compounds for AMPA potentiation. Therefore, we hypothesized that stem cell-derived neurons should be predictive in high-throughput screens (HTSs). Here, we describe a murine ES cell-based HTS of a 2.4 × 106 compound library, the identification of novel chemical “hits” for AMPA potentiation, structure function relationship of compounds and receptors, and validation of chemical leads in secondary assays using human ES cell-derived neurons. This reporting of murine ES cell derivatives being formatted to deliver HTS of greater than 106 compounds for a specific drug target conclusively demonstrates a new application for stem cells in drug discovery. In the future new molecular entities may be screened directly in human ES or induced pluripotent stem cell derivatives.