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Nucleic Acids Res. 2003 Feb 1;31(3):878-85.

Novel mitosis-specific phosphorylation of histone H3 at Thr11 mediated by Dlk/ZIP kinase.

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  • 1Institute of Genetics, University of Bonn, Roemerstrasse 164, D-53117 Bonn, Germany.


Death-associated protein (DAP)-like kinase (Dlk), also known as Zipper interacting protein (ZIP) kinase, is a nuclear serine/threonine-specific kinase that phosphorylates core histones H3 and H4, and myosine light chain in vitro. It interacts with transcription and splicing factors as well as with pro-apoptotic protein Par-4 suggesting that it participates in multiple cellular processes. To explore the significance of histone phosphorylation by Dlk, we determined the phosphorylation site in H3 and generated phosphospecific antibodies for in vivo analyses. Interestingly, Dlk/ZIP kinase phosphorylated histone H3 at a novel site, Thr11, rather than Ser10, which is characteristic of mitotic chromosomes. Immunoblotting and confocal immunofluorescence analyses demonstrated that phosphorylation of H3 at Thr11 occurred in vivo and was restricted to mitosis as well. It was discernable from prophase to early anaphase and particularly enriched at centromeres. Strikingly, during this time interval, Dlk was associated with centromeres too, as revealed by stable expression of a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-Dlk fusion protein. These findings strongly suggest that Dlk is a centromere-specific histone kinase that might play a role in labeling centromere-specific chromatin for subsequent mitotic processes.

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