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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jul 21;275(29):22245-54.

Cell cycle-regulated phosphorylation of the human SIX1 homeodomain protein.

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Division of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, and the Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Human SIX1 (HSIX1) is a member of the Six class of homeodomain proteins implicated in muscle, eye, head, and brain development. To further understand the role of HSIX1 in the cell cycle and cancer, we developed an HSIX1-specific antibody to study protein expression at various stages of the cell cycle. Our previous work demonstrated that HSIX1 mRNA expression increases as cells exit S phase and that overexpression of HSIX1 can attenuate a DNA damage-induced G(2) cell cycle checkpoint. Overexpression of HSIX1 mRNA was observed in 44% of primary breast cancers and 90% of metastatic lesions. Now we demonstrate that HSIX1 is a nuclear phosphoprotein that becomes hyperphosphorylated at mitosis in both MCF7 cells and in Xenopus extracts. The pattern of phosphorylation observed in mitosis is similar to that seen by treating recombinant HSIX1 with casein kinase II (CK2) in vitro. Apigenin, a selective CK2 inhibitor, diminishes interphase and mitotic phosphorylation of HSIX1. Treatment of MCF7 cells with apigenin leads to a dose-dependent arrest at the G(2)/M boundary, implicating CK2, like HSIX1, in the G(2)/M transition. HSIX1 hyperphosphorylated in vitro by CK2 loses its ability to bind the MEF3 sites of the aldolase A promoter (pM), and decreased binding to pM is observed during mitosis. Because CK2 and HSIX1 have both been implicated in cancer and in cell cycle control, we propose that HSIX1, whose activity is regulated by CK2, is a relevant target of CK2 in G(2)/M checkpoint control and that both molecules participate in the same pathway whose dysregulation leads to cancer.

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