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1.  Structure-specific endonucleases Xpf and Mus81 play overlapping but essential roles in DNA repair by homologous recombination 
Cancer research  2013;73(14):4362-4371.
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) occur frequently during replication in sister chromatids, and are dramatically increased when cells are exposed to chemotherapeutic agents including camptothecin. Such DSBs are efficiently repaired specifically by homologous recombination (HR) with the intact sister chromatid. HR hence plays pivotal roles in cellular proliferation and cellular tolerance to camptothecin. Mammalian cells carry several structure-specific endonucleases, such as Xpf-Ercc1 and Mus81-Eme1, in which Xpf and Mus81 are the essential subunits for enzymatic activity. Here we show the functional overlap between Xpf and Mus81 by conditionally inactivating Xpf in the chicken DT40 cell line, which has no Mus81 ortholog. Although mammalian cells deficient in either Xpf or Mus81 are viable, Xpf inactivation in DT40 cells was lethal, resulting in a marked increase in the number of spontaneous chromosome breaks. Similarly, inactivation of both Xpf and Mus81 in human HeLa cells and murine embryonic stem cells caused numerous spontaneous chromosome breaks. Furthermore, the phenotype of Xpf-deficient DT40 cells was reversed by ectopic expression of human Mus81-Eme1 or human Xpf-Ercc1 heterodimers. These observations indicate the functional overlap of Xpf-Ercc1 and Mus81-Eme1 in the maintenance of genomic DNA. Both Mus81-Eme1 and Xpf-Ercc1 contribute to the completion of HR as evidenced by the following data that the expression of Mus81-Eme1 or Xpf-Ercc1 diminished the number of camptothecin-induced chromosome breaks in Xpf-deficient DT40 cells, and preventing early steps in HR by deleting XRCC3 suppressed the inviability of Xpf-deficient DT40 cells. In summary, Xpf and Mus81 have a substantially overlapping function in completion of HR.
PMCID: PMC3718858  PMID: 23576554
homologous recombination; Xpf; Mus81; nuclease; chemotherapeutic agents
2.  Histone H4 Lys 20 Monomethylation of the CENP-A Nucleosome Is Essential for Kinetochore Assembly 
Developmental Cell  2014;29(6):740-749.
In vertebrate cells, centromeres are specified epigenetically through the deposition of the centromere-specific histone CENP-A. Following CENP-A deposition, additional proteins are assembled on centromeric chromatin. However, it remains unknown whether additional epigenetic features of centromeric chromatin are required for kinetochore assembly. Here, we used ChIP-seq analysis to examine centromere-specific histone modifications at chicken centromeres, which lack highly repetitive sequences. We found that H4K20 monomethylation (H4K20me1) is enriched at centromeres. Immunofluorescence and biochemical analyses revealed that H4K20me1 is present at all centromeres in chicken and human cells. Based on immunoprecipitation data, H4K20me1 occurs primarily on the histone H4 that is assembled as part of the CENP-A nucleosome following deposition of CENP-A into centromeres. Targeting the H4K20me1-specific demethylase PHF8 to centromeres reduces the level of H4K20me1 at centromeres and results in kinetochore assembly defects. We conclude that H4K20me1 modification of CENP-A nucleosomes contributes to functional kinetochore assembly.
Graphical Abstract
•H4K20 monomethylation is enriched at both chicken and human centromeres•H4K20 monomethylation occurs primarily at the CENP-A-containing nucleosomes•H4K20 monomethylation is essential for kinetochore assembly in chicken cells
Deposition of histone CENP-A characterizes vertebrate centromeres, but the full epigenetic landscape of centromeres remains undefined. Hori et al. show that monomethylation of histone H4K20 is associated with CENP-A nucleosomes and is enriched at human and chicken centromeres. Importantly, they show that this chromatin modification is essential for kinetochore assembly.
PMCID: PMC4081567  PMID: 24960696
3.  The CENP-O complex requirement varies among different cell types 
Chromosome Research  2014;22(3):293-303.
CENP-U (CENP-50) is a component of the CENP-O complex, which includes CENP-O, CENP-P, CENP-Q, CENP-R, and CENP-U and is constitutively localized at kinetochores throughout the cell cycle in vertebrates. Although CENP-U deficiency results in some mitotic defects in chicken DT40 cells, CENP-U-deficient chicken DT40 cells are viable. To examine the functional roles of CENP-U in an organism-dependent context, we generated CENP-U-deficient mice. The CENP-U-deficient mice died during early embryogenesis (approximately E7.5). Thus, conditional CENP-U-deficient mouse ES cells were generated to analyze CENP-U-deficient phenotypes at the cell level. When CENP-U was disrupted in the mouse ES cells, all CENP-O complex proteins disappeared from kinetochores. In contrast, other kinetochore proteins were recruited in CENP-U-deficient mouse ES cells as CENP-U-deficient DT40 cells. However, the CENP-U-deficient ES cells died after exhibiting abnormal mitotic behavior. Although CENP-U was essential for cell viability during mouse early embryogenesis, CENP-U-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblast cells were viable, similar to the DT40 cells. Thus, although both DT40 and ES cells with CENP-U deficiency have similar mitotic defects, cellular responses to mitotic defects vary among different cell types.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10577-014-9404-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4129241  PMID: 24481920
Centromere; Kinetochore; CENP-O complex proteins
4.  The centromeric nucleosome-like CENP–T–W–S–X complex induces positive supercoils into DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(3):1644-1655.
The centromere is a specific genomic region upon which the kinetochore is formed to attach to spindle microtubules for faithful chromosome segregation. To distinguish this chromosomal region from other genomic loci, the centromere contains a specific chromatin structure including specialized nucleosomes containing the histone H3 variant CENP–A. In addition to CENP–A nucleosomes, we have found that centromeres contain a nucleosome-like structure comprised of the histone-fold CENP–T–W–S–X complex. However, it is unclear how the CENP–T–W–S–X complex associates with centromere chromatin. Here, we demonstrate that the CENP–T–W–S–X complex binds preferentially to ∼100 bp of linker DNA rather than nucleosome-bound DNA. In addition, we find that the CENP–T–W–S–X complex primarily binds to DNA as a (CENP–T–W–S–X)2 structure. Interestingly, in contrast to canonical nucleosomes that negatively supercoil DNA, the CENP–T–W–S–X complex induces positive DNA supercoils. We found that the DNA-binding regions in CENP–T or CENP–W, but not CENP–S or CENP–X, are required for this positive supercoiling activity and the kinetochore targeting of the CENP–T–W–S–X complex. In summary, our work reveals the structural features and properties of the CENP–T–W–S–X complex for its localization to centromeres.
PMCID: PMC3919578  PMID: 24234442
5.  The CCAN recruits CENP-A to the centromere and forms the structural core for kinetochore assembly 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;200(1):45-60.
Engineered kinetochores reveal distinct functions of the CCAN in recruiting CENP-A to the centromere and acting as a structural core to directly recruit kinetochore proteins.
CENP-A acts as an important epigenetic marker for kinetochore specification. However, the mechanisms by which CENP-A is incorporated into centromeres and the structural basis for kinetochore formation downstream of CENP-A remain unclear. Here, we used a unique chromosome-engineering system in which kinetochore proteins are targeted to a noncentromeric site after the endogenous centromere is conditionally removed. Using this system, we created two distinct types of engineered kinetochores, both of which were stably maintained in chicken DT40 cells. Ectopic targeting of full-length HJURP, CENP-C, CENP-I, or the CENP-C C terminus generated engineered kinetochores containing major kinetochore components, including CENP-A. In contrast, ectopic targeting of the CENP-T or CENP-C N terminus generated functional kinetochores that recruit the microtubule-binding Ndc80 complex and chromosome passenger complex (CPC), but lack CENP-A and most constitutive centromere-associated network (CCAN) proteins. Based on the analysis of these different engineered kinetochores, we conclude that the CCAN has two distinct roles: recruiting CENP-A to establish the kinetochore and serving as a structural core to directly recruit kinetochore proteins.
PMCID: PMC3542802  PMID: 23277427
6.  Chromosome Engineering Allows the Efficient Isolation of Vertebrate Neocentromeres 
Developmental Cell  2013;24(6):635-648.
Centromeres are specified by sequence-independent epigenetic mechanisms in most organisms. Rarely, centromere repositioning results in neocentromere formation at ectopic sites. However, the mechanisms governing how and where neocentromeres form are unknown. Here, we established a chromosome-engineering system in chicken DT40 cells that allowed us to efficiently isolate neocentromere-containing chromosomes. Neocentromeres appear to be structurally and functionally equivalent to native centromeres. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) analysis with 18 neocentromeres revealed that the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENP-A occupies an ∼40 kb region at each neocentromere, which has no preference for specific DNA sequence motifs. Furthermore, we found that neocentromeres were not associated with histone modifications H3K9me3, H3K4me2, and H3K36me3 or with early replication timing. Importantly, low but significant levels of CENP-A are detected around endogenous centromeres, which are capable of seeding neocentromere assembly if the centromere core is removed. In summary, our experimental system provides valuable insights for understanding how neocentromeres form.
Graphical Abstract
► Chromosome engineering efficiently generates neocentromeres in chicken DT40 cells ► CENP-A reproducibly occupies an ∼40 kb genomic region at each neocentromere ► Nonkinetochore CENP-A appears to function as a seed for neocentromere assembly
Centromeres are specified by sequence-independent epigenetic mechanisms. Shang et al. generated a collection of chicken neocentromeres in DT40 cells. Their analysis indicates that neocentromere formation does not correlate with the expected histone modifications or with replication timing, but rather depends on the histone H3 variant CENP-A to seed assembly.
PMCID: PMC3925796  PMID: 23499358
7.  CENP-T-W-S-X forms a unique centromeric chromatin structure with a histone-like fold 
Cell  2012;148(3):487-501.
The multi-protein kinetochore complex must assemble at a specific site on each chromosome to achieve accurate chromosome segregation. Defining the nature of the DNA-protein interactions that specify the position of the kinetochore and provide a scaffold for kinetochore formation remain key goals. Here, we demonstrate that the centromeric histone-fold containing CENP-T-W and CENP-S-X complexes co-assemble to form a stable CENP-T-W-S-X heterotetramer. High-resolution structural analysis of the individual complexes and the heterotetramer reveals similarity to other histone fold-containing complexes including canonical histones within a nucleosome. The CENP-T-W-S-X heterotetramer binds to and supercoils DNA. Mutants designed to compromise heterotetramerization or the DNA-protein contacts around the heterotetramer strongly reduce the DNA binding and supercoiling activities in vitro and compromise kinetochore assembly in vivo. These data suggest that the CENP-T-W-S-X complex forms a unique nucleosome-like structure to generate contacts with DNA, extending the “histone code” beyond canonical nucleosome proteins.
PMCID: PMC3277711  PMID: 22304917
Kinetochore; CENP-T-W; CENP-S-X; The X-ray Structure; DNA binding
8.  Induced ectopic kinetochore assembly bypasses the requirement for CENP-A nucleosomes 
Cell  2011;145(3):410-422.
Accurate chromosome segregation requires assembly of the multi-protein kinetochore complex at centromeres. Although prior work identified the centromeric histone H3-variant CENP-A as the important upstream factor necessary for centromere specification, in human cells CENP-A is not sufficient for kinetochore assembly. Here, we demonstrate that two constitutive DNA-binding kinetochore components, CENP-C and CENP-T, function to direct kinetochore formation. Replacing the DNA-binding regions of CENP-C and CENP-T with alternate chromosome-targeting domains recruits these proteins to ectopic loci, resulting in CENP-A-independent kinetochore assembly. These ectopic kinetochore-like foci are functional based on the stoichiometric assembly of multiple kinetochore components including the microtubule-binding KMN network, the presence of microtubule attachments, the microtubule-sensitive recruitment of the spindle checkpoint protein Mad2, and the segregation behavior of foci-containing chromosomes. We additionally find that CENP-T phosphorylation regulates the mitotic assembly of both endogenous and ectopic kinetochores. Thus, CENP-C and CENP-T form a critical regulated platform for vertebrate kinetochore assembly.
PMCID: PMC3085131  PMID: 21529714
Mitosis; Centromere; Kinetochore; Chromosome Segregation
9.  Spindle microtubules generate tension-dependent changes in the distribution of inner kinetochore proteins 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;193(1):125-140.
The N and C termini of CENP-T undergo tension-dependent separation, suggesting that CENP-T elongation is responsible for changes in the shape of the inner kinetochore.
The kinetochore forms a dynamic interface with microtubules from the mitotic spindle. Live-cell light microscopy–based observations on the dynamic structural changes within the kinetochore suggest that molecular rearrangements within the kinetochore occur upon microtubule interaction. However, the source of these rearrangements is still unclear. In this paper, we analyze vertebrate kinetochore ultrastructure by immunoelectron microscopy (EM) in the presence or absence of tension from spindle microtubules. We found that the inner kinetochore region defined by CENP-A, CENP-C, CENP-R, and the C-terminal domain of CENP-T is deformed in the presence of tension, whereas the outer kinetochore region defined by Ndc80, Mis12, and CENP-E is not stretched even under tension. Importantly, based on EM, fluorescence microscopy, and in vitro analyses, we demonstrated that the N and C termini of CENP-T undergo a tension-dependent separation, suggesting that CENP-T elongation is at least partly responsible for changes in the shape of the inner kinetochore.
PMCID: PMC3082190  PMID: 21464230
10.  Aurora B kinase controls the targeting of the Astrin–SKAP complex to bioriented kinetochores 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;191(2):269-280.
Localization of the spindle and kinetochore proteins Astrin, SKAP, and LC8 is antagonized by Aurora B so that they target exclusively to bioriented kinetochores.
During mitosis, kinetochores play multiple roles to generate interactions with microtubules, and direct chromosome congression, biorientation, error correction, and anaphase segregation. However, it is unclear what changes at the kinetochore facilitate these distinct activities. Here, we describe a complex of the spindle- and kinetochore-associated protein Astrin, the small kinetochore-associated protein (SKAP), and the dynein light chain LC8. Although most dynein-associated proteins localize to unaligned kinetochores in an Aurora B–dependent manner, Astrin, SKAP, and LC8 localization is antagonized by Aurora B such that they target exclusively to bioriented kinetochores. Astrin–SKAP-depleted cells fail to maintain proper chromosome alignment, resulting in a spindle assembly checkpoint–dependent mitotic delay. Consistent with a role in stabilizing bioriented attachments, Astrin and SKAP bind directly to microtubules and are required for CLASP localization to kinetochores. In total, our results suggest that tension-dependent Aurora B phosphorylation can act to control outer kinetochore composition to provide distinct activities to prometaphase and metaphase kinetochores.
PMCID: PMC2958477  PMID: 20937697
11.  Vertebrate kinetochore protein architecture: protein copy number 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;189(6):937-943.
The stoichiometry of kinetochore components is determined, suggesting conservation between multiple microtubule-binding vertebrate and single microtubule-binding yeast kinetochores.
To define the molecular architecture of the kinetochore in vertebrate cells, we measured the copy number of eight kinetochore proteins that link kinetochore microtubules (MTs [kMTs]) to centromeric DNA. We used a fluorescence ratio method and chicken DT40 cell lines in which endogenous loci encoding the analyzed proteins were deleted and complemented using integrated green fluorescent protein fusion transgenes. For a mean of 4.3 kMTs at metaphase, the protein copy number per kMT is between seven and nine for members of the MT-binding KNL-1/Mis12 complex/Ndc80 complex network. It was between six and nine for four members of the constitutive centromere-associated network: centromere protein C (CENP-C), CENP-H, CENP-I, and CENP-T. The similarity in copy number per kMT for all of these proteins suggests that each MT end is linked to DNA by six to nine fibrous unit attachment modules in vertebrate cells, a conclusion that indicates architectural conservation between multiple MT-binding vertebrate and single MT-binding budding yeast kinetochores.
PMCID: PMC2886349  PMID: 20548100
12.  Regulated targeting of protein phosphatase 1 to the outer kinetochore by KNL1 opposes Aurora B kinase 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;188(6):809-820.
KNL targets PP1 to kinetochores, where it antagonizes Aurora B activity.
Regulated interactions between kinetochores and spindle microtubules are essential to maintain genomic stability during chromosome segregation. The Aurora B kinase phosphorylates kinetochore substrates to destabilize kinetochore–microtubule interactions and eliminate incorrect attachments. These substrates must be dephosphorylated to stabilize correct attachments, but how opposing kinase and phosphatase activities are coordinated at the kinetochore is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that a conserved motif in the kinetochore protein KNL1 directly interacts with and targets protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) to the outer kinetochore. PP1 recruitment by KNL1 is required to dephosphorylate Aurora B substrates at kinetochores and stabilize microtubule attachments. PP1 levels at kinetochores are regulated and inversely proportional to local Aurora B activity. Indeed, we demonstrate that phosphorylation of KNL1 by Aurora B disrupts the KNL1–PP1 interaction. In total, our results support a positive feedback mechanism by which Aurora B activity at kinetochores not only targets substrates directly, but also prevents localization of the opposing phosphatase.
PMCID: PMC2845083  PMID: 20231380
13.  Identification and characterization of the two isoforms of the vertebrate H2A.Z histone variant 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(13):4263-4273.
Histone variants play important roles in the epigenetic regulation of genome function. The histone variant H2A.Z is evolutionarily conserved from yeast to vertebrates, and it has been reported to have multiple effects upon gene expression and insulation, and chromosome segregation. Recently two genes encoding H2A.Z were identified in the vertebrate genome. However, it is not yet clear whether the proteins transcribed from these genes are functionally distinct. To address this issue, we knocked out each gene individually in chicken DT40 cells. We found that two distinct proteins, H2A.Z-1 and H2A.Z-2, were produced from these genes, and that these proteins could be separated on a long SDS–PAGE gel. The two isoforms were deposited to a similar extent by the SRCAP chromatin-remodeling complex, suggesting redundancy to their function. However, cells lacking either one of the two isoforms exhibited distinct alterations in cell growth and gene expression, suggesting that the two isoforms have differential effects upon nucleosome stability and chromatin structure. These findings provide insight into the molecular basis of the multiple functions of the H2A.Z gene products.
PMCID: PMC2910051  PMID: 20299344
14.  The CENP-S complex is essential for the stable assembly of outer kinetochore structure 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;186(2):173-182.
The constitutive centromere-associated network (CCAN) proteins are central to kinetochore assembly. To define the molecular architecture of this critical kinetochore network, we sought to determine the full complement of CCAN components and to define their relationships. This work identified a centromere protein S (CENP-S)–containing subcomplex that includes the new constitutive kinetochore protein CENP-X. Both CENP-S– and CENP-X–deficient chicken DT40 cells are viable but show abnormal mitotic behavior based on live cell analysis. Human HeLa cells depleted for CENP-X also showed mitotic errors. The kinetochore localization of CENP-S and -X is abolished in CENP-T– or CENP-K–deficient cells, but reciprocal experiments using CENP-S–deficient cells did not reveal defects in the localization of CCAN components. However, CENP-S– and CENP-X–deficient cells show a significant reduction in the size of the kinetochore outer plate. In addition, we found that intrakinetochore distance was increased in CENP-S– and CENP-X–deficient cells. These results suggest that the CENP-S complex is essential for the stable assembly of the outer kinetochore.
PMCID: PMC2717651  PMID: 19620631
15.  A Rac GTPase-Activating Protein, MgcRacGAP, Is a Nuclear Localizing Signal-Containing Nuclear Chaperone in the Activation of STAT Transcription Factors▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(7):1796-1813.
In addition to their pleiotropic functions under physiological conditions, transcription factors STAT3 and STAT5 also have oncogenic activities, but how activated STATs are transported to the nucleus has not been fully understood. Here we show that an MgcRacGAP mutant lacking its nuclear localizing signal (NLS) blocks nuclear translocation of p-STATs both in vitro and in vivo. Unlike wild-type MgcRacGAP, this mutant did not promote complex formation of phosphorylated STATs (p-STATs) with importin α in the presence of GTP-bound Rac1, suggesting that MgcRacGAP functions as an NLS-containing nuclear chaperone. We also demonstrate that mutants of STATs lacking the MgcRacGAP binding site (the strand βb) are hardly tyrosine phosphorylated after cytokine stimulation. Intriguingly, mutants harboring small deletions in the C′-adjacent region (βb-βc loop region) of the strand βb became constitutively active with the enhanced binding to MgcRacGAP. The molecular basis of this phenomenon will be discussed, based on the computer-assisted tertiary structure models of STAT3. Thus, MgcRacGAP functions as both a critical mediator of STAT's tyrosine phosphorylation and an NLS-containing nuclear chaperone of p-STATs.
PMCID: PMC2655612  PMID: 19158271
16.  Crystal Structure of Squid Rhodopsin with Intracellularly Extended Cytoplasmic Region*S⃞ 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2008;283(26):17753-17756.
G-protein-coupled receptors play a key step in cellular signal transduction cascades by transducing various extracellular signals via G-proteins. Rhodopsin is a prototypical G-protein-coupled receptor involved in the retinal visual signaling cascade. We determined the structure of squid rhodopsin at 3.7Å resolution, which transduces signals through the Gq protein to the phosphoinositol cascade. The structure showed seven transmembrane helices and an amphipathic helix H8 has similar geometry to structures from bovine rhodopsin, coupling to Gt, and humanβ2-adrenergic receptor, coupling to Gs. Notably, squid rhodopsin contains a well structured cytoplasmic region involved in the interaction with G-proteins, and this region is flexible or disordered in bovine rhodopsin and humanβ2-adrenergic receptor. The transmembrane helices 5 and 6 are longer and extrude into the cytoplasm. The distal C-terminal tail contains a short hydrophilic α-helix CH after the palmitoylated cysteine residues. The residues in the distal C-terminal tail interact with the neighboring residues in the second cytoplasmic loop, the extruded transmembrane helices 5 and 6, and the short helix H8. Additionally, the Tyr-111, Asn-87, and Asn-185 residues are located within hydrogen-bonding distances from the nitrogen atom of the Schiff base.
PMCID: PMC2440622  PMID: 18463093
17.  CENP-O Class Proteins Form a Stable Complex and Are Required for Proper Kinetochore Function 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(3):843-854.
We previously identified a multisubunit complex (CENP-H/I complex) in kinetochores from human and chicken cells. We showed that the CENP-H/I complex is divided into three functional classes. In the present study, we investigated CENP-O class proteins, which include CENP-O, -P, -Q, -R, and -50 (U). We created chicken DT40 cell knockouts of each of these proteins, and we found that all knockout lines were viable, but that they showed slow proliferation and mitotic defects. Kinetochore localization of CENP-O, -P, -Q, and -50 was interdependent, but kinetochore localization of these proteins was observed in CENP-R–deficient cells. A coexpression assay in bacteria showed that CENP-O, -P, -Q, and -50 proteins form a stable complex that can associate with CENP-R. Phenotype analysis of knockout cells showed that all proteins except for CENP-R were required for recovery from spindle damage, and phosphorylation of CENP-50 was essential for recovery from spindle damage. We also found that treatment with the proteasome inhibitor MG132 partially rescued the severe mitotic phenotype observed in response to release from nocodazole block in CENP-50–deficient cells. This suggests that CENP-O class proteins are involved in the prevention of premature sister chromatid separation during recovery from spindle damage.
PMCID: PMC2262965  PMID: 18094054
18.  KNL1 and the CENP-H/I/K Complex Coordinately Direct Kinetochore Assembly in Vertebrates 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(2):587-594.
Chromosome segregation during mitosis requires the assembly of a large proteinaceous structure termed the kinetochore. In Caenorhabditis elegans, KNL-1 is required to target multiple outer kinetochore proteins. Here, we demonstrate that the vertebrate KNL1 counterpart is essential for chromosome segregation and is required to localize a subset of outer kinetochore proteins. However, unlike in C. elegans, depletion of vertebrate KNL1 does not abolish kinetochore localization of the microtubule-binding Ndc80 complex. Instead, we show that KNL1 and CENP-K, a subunit of a constitutively centromere-associated complex that is missing from C. elegans, coordinately direct Ndc80 complex localization. Simultaneously reducing both hKNL1 and CENP-K function abolishes all aspects of kinetochore assembly downstream of centromeric chromatin and causes catastrophic chromosome segregation defects. These findings explain discrepancies in kinetochore assembly pathways between different organisms and reveal a surprising plasticity in the assembly mechanism of an essential cell division organelle.
PMCID: PMC2230600  PMID: 18045986
19.  CENP-C Is Involved in Chromosome Segregation, Mitotic Checkpoint Function, and Kinetochore Assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(6):2155-2168.
CENP-C is a conserved inner kinetochore component. To understand the precise roles of CENP-C in the kinetochore, we created a cell line with a conditional knockout of CENP-C with the tetracycline-inducible system in which the target protein is inactivated at the level of transcription. We found that CENP-C inactivation causes mitotic delay. However, observations of living cells showed that CENP-C-knockout cells progressed to the next cell cycle without normal cell division after mitotic delay. Interphase cells with two nuclei before subsequent cell death were sometimes observed. We also found that ∼60% of CENP-C–deficient cells had no Mad2 signals even after treatment with nocodazole, suggesting that lack of CENP-C impairs the Mad2 spindle checkpoint pathway. We also observed significant reductions in the signal intensities of Mis12 complex proteins at centromeres in CENP-C–deficient cells. CENP-C signals were also weak in interphase nuclei but not in mitotic chromosomes of cells with a knockout of CENP-K, a member of CENP-H complex proteins. These results suggest that centromere localization of CENP-C in interphase nuclei occurs upstream of localization of the Mis12 complex and downstream of localization of the CENP-H complex.
PMCID: PMC1877116  PMID: 17392512
20.  A novel histone exchange factor, protein phosphatase 2Cγ, mediates the exchange and dephosphorylation of H2A–H2B 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;175(3):389-400.
In eukaryotic nuclei, DNA is wrapped around a protein octamer composed of the core histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4, forming nucleosomes as the fundamental units of chromatin. The modification and deposition of specific histone variants play key roles in chromatin function. In this study, we established an in vitro system based on permeabilized cells that allows the assembly and exchange of histones in situ. H2A and H2B, each tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP), are incorporated into euchromatin by exchange independently of DNA replication, and H3.1-GFP is assembled into replicated chromatin, as found in living cells. By purifying the cellular factors that assist in the incorporation of H2A–H2B, we identified protein phosphatase (PP) 2C γ subtype (PP2Cγ/PPM1G) as a histone chaperone that binds to and dephosphorylates H2A–H2B. The disruption of PP2Cγ in chicken DT40 cells increased the sensitivity to caffeine, a reagent that disturbs DNA replication and damage checkpoints, suggesting the involvement of PP2Cγ-mediated histone dephosphorylation and exchange in damage response or checkpoint recovery in higher eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2064517  PMID: 17074886
21.  The human Mis12 complex is required for kinetochore assembly and proper chromosome segregation 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;173(1):9-17.
During cell division, kinetochores form the primary chromosomal attachment sites for spindle microtubules. We previously identified a network of 10 interacting kinetochore proteins conserved between Caenorhabditis elegans and humans. In this study, we investigate three proteins in the human network (hDsn1Q9H410, hNnf1PMF1, and hNsl1DC31). Using coexpression in bacteria and fractionation of mitotic extracts, we demonstrate that these proteins form a stable complex with the conserved kinetochore component hMis12. Human or chicken cells depleted of Mis12 complex subunits are delayed in mitosis with misaligned chromosomes and defects in chromosome biorientation. Aligned chromosomes exhibited reduced centromere stretch and diminished kinetochore microtubule bundles. Consistent with this, localization of the outer plate constituent Ndc80HEC1 was severely reduced. The checkpoint protein BubR1, the fibrous corona component centromere protein (CENP) E, and the inner kinetochore proteins CENP-A and CENP-H also failed to accumulate to wild-type levels in depleted cells. These results indicate that a four-subunit Mis12 complex plays an essential role in chromosome segregation in vertebrates and contributes to mitotic kinetochore assembly.
PMCID: PMC2063780  PMID: 16585270
22.  The Constitutive Centromere Component CENP-50 Is Required for Recovery from Spindle Damage‡  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(23):10315-10328.
We identified CENP-50 as a novel kinetochore component. We found that CENP-50 is a constitutive component of the centromere that colocalizes with CENP-A and CENP-H throughout the cell cycle in vertebrate cells. To determine the precise role of CENP-50, we examined its role in centromere function by generating a loss-of-function mutant in the chicken DT40 cell line. The CENP-50 knockout was not lethal; however, the growth rate of cells with this mutation was slower than that of wild-type cells. We observed that the time for CENP-50-deficient cells to complete mitosis was longer than that for wild-type cells. Centromeric localization of CENP-50 was abolished in both CENP-H- and CENP-I-deficient cells. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments revealed that CENP-50 interacted with the CENP-H/CENP-I complex in chicken DT40 cells. We also observed severe mitotic defects in CENP-50-deficient cells with apparent premature sister chromatid separation when the mitotic checkpoint was activated, indicating that CENP-50 is required for recovery from spindle damage.
PMCID: PMC1291240  PMID: 16287847
23.  The Functional Region of CENP-H Interacts with the Nuf2 Complex That Localizes to Centromere during Mitosis†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(5):1958-1970.
CENP-H is a constitutive centromere component that localizes to the centromere throughout the cell cycle. Because CENP-H is colocalized with CENP-A and CENP-C, it is thought to be an inner centromere protein. We previously generated a conditional loss-of-function mutant of CENP-H and showed that CENP-H is required for targeting of CENP-C to the centromere in chicken DT40 cells. In the present study, we used this mutant to identify the functional region of chicken CENP-H necessary for centromere targeting and cell viability. This region was found by yeast two-hybrid analysis to interact with Hec1, which is a member of the Nuf2 complex that transiently localizes to the centromere during mitosis. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments revealed that CENP-H interacts with the Nuf2 complex in chicken DT40 cells. Photobleaching experiments showed that both Hec1 and CENP-H form stable associations with the centromeres during mitosis, suggesting that Hec1 acts as a structural component of centromeres during mitosis. On the basis of these results and previously published data, we propose that the Nuf2 complex functions as a connector between the inner and outer kinetochores.
PMCID: PMC549355  PMID: 15713649
24.  Wpkci, Encoding an Altered Form of PKCI, Is Conserved Widely on the Avian W Chromosome and Expressed in Early Female Embryos: Implication of Its Role in Female Sex Determination 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2000;11(10):3645-3660.
Two W chromosome–linked cDNA clones, p5fm2 and p5fm3, were obtained from a subtracted (female minus male) cDNA library prepared from a mixture of undifferentiated gonads and mesonephroi of male or female 5-d (stages 26–28) chicken embryos. These two clones were demonstrated to be derived from the mRNA encoding an altered form of PKC inhibitor/interacting protein (PKCI), and its gene was named Wpkci. The Wpkci gene reiterated ∼40 times tandemly and located at the nonheterochromatic end of the chicken W chromosome. The W linkage and the moderate reiteration of Wpkci were conserved widely in Carinatae birds. The chicken PKCI gene, chPKCI, was shown to be a single-copy gene located near the centromere on the long arm of the Z chromosome. Deduced amino acid sequences of Wpkci and chPKCI showed ∼65% identity. In the deduced sequence of Wpkci, the HIT motif, which is essential for PKCI function, was absent, but the α-helix region, which was conserved among the PKCI family, and a unique Leu- and Arg-rich region, were present. Transcripts from both Wpkci and chPKCI genes were present at significantly higher levels in 3- to 6-d (stages 20–29) embryos. These transcripts were detected in several embryonic tissues, including undifferentiated left and right gonads. When the green fluorescent protein–fused form of Wpkci was expressed in male chicken embryonic fibroblast, it was located almost exclusively in the nucleus. A model is presented suggesting that Wpkci may be involved in triggering the differentiation of ovary by interfering with PKCI function or by exhibiting its unique function in the nuclei of early female embryos.
PMCID: PMC15021  PMID: 11029061

Results 1-24 (24)