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Blood. 2008 Feb 1;111(3):1193-200. Epub 2007 Nov 14.

Cyclin-dependent kinase phosphorylation of RUNX1/AML1 on 3 sites increases transactivation potency and stimulates cell proliferation.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Oncology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.


RUNX1/AML1 regulates lineage-specific genes during hematopoiesis and stimulates G1 cell-cycle progression. Within RUNX1, S48, S303, and S424 fit the cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) phosphorylation consensus, (S/T)PX(R/K). Phosphorylation of RUNX1 by cdks on serine 303 was shown to mediate destabilization of RUNX1 in G2/M. We now use an in vitro kinase assay, phosphopeptide-specific antiserum, and the cdk inhibitor roscovitine to demonstrate that S48 and S424 are also phosphorylated by cdk1 or cdk6 in hematopoietic cells. S48 phosphorylation of RUNX1 paralleled total RUNX1 levels during cell-cycle progression, S303 was more effectively phosphorylated in G2/M, and S424 in G1. Single, double, and triple mutation of the cdk sites to the partially phosphomimetic aspartic acid mildly reduced DNA affinity while progressively increasing transactivation of a model reporter. Mutation to alanine increased DNA affinity, suggesting that in other gene or cellular contexts phosphorylation of RUNX1 by cdks may reduce transactivation. The tripleD RUNX1 mutant rescued Ba/F3 cells from inhibition of proliferation by CBFbeta-SMMHC more effectively than the tripleA mutant. Together these findings indicate that cdk phosphorylation of RUNX1 potentially couples stem/progenitor proliferation and lineage progression.

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