Putative link between Polo-like kinases (PLKs) and Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in transformed and primary human immune cells.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are important sentinels of bacterial and viral infection and thus fulfil a critical sensory role in innate immunity. Polo-like kinases (PLKs), a five membered family of Ser/Thr protein kinases, have long been studied for their role in mitosis and thus represent attractive therapeutic targets in cancer therapy. Recently, PLKs were implicated in TLR signaling in mice but the role of PLKs in TLR signaling in untransformed primary immune cells has not been addressed, even though PLK inhibitors are in clinical trials. We here identified several phospho-serine and phospho-threonine residues in the known TLR pathway kinases, Interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase (IRAK) 2 and IRAK4. These sites lie in canonical polo-box motifs (PBM), sequence motifs known to direct recruitment of PLKs to client proteins. Interestingly, PLK1 was phosphorylated and PLK 2 and 3 mRNA induced upon TLR stimulation in primary immune cells, respectively. In whole blood, PLK inhibition disparately affected TLR mediated cytokine responses in a donor- and inhibitor-dependent fashion. Collectively, PLKs may thus potentially interface with TLR signaling in humans. We propose that temporary PLK inhibitor-mediated blockade of TLR-signaling in certain patients receiving such inhibitors during cancer treatment may cause adverse effects such as an increased risk of infections due to a then compromised ability of the TLR recognition system to sense and initiate cytokine responses to invading microbes.
Wellcome Trust (100321/Z/12/Z)