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Survivin Reads Phosphorylated Histone H3 Threonine 3 to Activate the Mitotic Kinase Aurora B

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Science  12 Aug 2010:
1189505
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189505

Abstract

A hallmark of mitosis is the appearance of high levels of histone phosphorylation, yet the roles of these modifications remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that histone H3 phosphorylated at threonine 3 is directly recognized by an evolutionarily conserved binding pocket in the BIR domain of Survivin, a member of the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC). This binding mediates recruitment of the CPC to chromosomes and resulting activation of its kinase subunit Aurora B. Consistently, modulation of the kinase activity of Haspin, which phosphorylates H3T3, leads to defects in the Aurora B–dependent processes of spindle assembly and inhibition of nuclear re-formation. These findings establish a direct cellular role for mitotic histone H3T3 phosphorylation, which is read and translated by the CPC to ensure accurate cell division.