PloS one

The transcription factor YY1 is a novel substrate for Aurora B kinase at G2/M transition of the cell cycle.

PMID 23226345


Yin Yang 1 (YY1) is a ubiquitously expressed and highly conserved multifunctional transcription factor that is involved in a variety of cellular processes. Many YY1-regulated genes have crucial roles in cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and cell cycle regulation. Numerous mechanisms have been shown to regulate the function of YY1, such as DNA binding affinity, subcellular localization, and posttranslational modification including phosphorylation. Polo-like kinase 1(Plk1) and Casein kinase 2α (CK2 α) were the first two kinases identified to phosphorylate YY1. In this study, we identify a third kinase. We report that YY1 is a novel substrate of the Aurora B kinase both in vitro and in vivo. Serine 184 phosphorylation of YY1 by Aurora B is cell cycle regulated and peaks at G2/M and is rapidly dephosphorylated, likely by protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) as the cells enter G1. Aurora A and Aurora C can also phosphorylate YY1 in vitro, but at serine/threonine residues other than serine 184. We present evidence that phosphorylation of YY1 in the central glycine/alanine (G/A)-rich region is important for DNA binding activity, with a potential phosphorylation/acetylation interplay regulating YY1 function. Given their importance in mitosis and overexpression in human cancers, Aurora kinases have been identified as promising therapeutic targets. Increasing our understanding of Aurora substrates will add to the understanding of their signaling pathways.