Two Histone Marks Establish the Inner Centromere and Chromosome Bi-Orientation

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Science  08 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6001, pp. 239-243
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194498

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Location, Location, Location

Cell division is orchestrated by a complex signaling pathway that ensures the correct segregation of newly replicated chromosomes to the two daughter cells. The pathway is controlled in part by restricting the activity of critical regulators to specific subcellular locations. For example, the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) is recruited to chromosomes during mitosis where it oversees kinetochore activity and cytokinesis (see Perspective by Musacchio). Wang et al. (p. 231, published online 12 August), Kelly et al. (p. 235, published online 12 August), and Yamagishi et al. (p. 239) now show that the phosphorylation of the chromatin protein, histone H3, acts to bring the CPC to chromosomes, thereby activating its aurora B kinase subunit. The Survivin subunit of CPC binds specifically to phosphorylated H3, with the phosphorylation at centromeres being carried out by the mitosis-specific kinase, haspin. Furthermore, Bub1 phosphorylation of histone H2A recruits shugoshin, a centromeric CPC adapter. Thus, these two histone marks in combination define the inner centromere.


For proper partitioning of chromosomes in mitosis, the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) including Aurora B and survivin must be localized at the center of paired kinetochores, at the site called the inner centromere. It is largely unknown what defines the inner centromere and how the CPC is targeted to this site. Here, we show that the phosphorylation of histone H3–threonine 3 (H3-pT3) mediated by Haspin cooperates with Bub1-mediated histone 2A–serine 121 (H2A-S121) phosphorylation in targeting the CPC to the inner centromere in fission yeast and human cells. H3-pT3 promotes nucleosome binding of survivin, whereas phosphorylated H2A-S121 facilitates the binding of shugoshin, the centromeric CPC adaptor. Haspin colocalizes with cohesin by associating with Pds5, whereas Bub1 localizes at kinetochores. Thus, the inner centromere is defined by intersection of two histone kinases.

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