H3 phosphorylation: dual role in mitosis and interphase

Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Oct;87(5):695-709. doi: 10.1139/O09-053.


Chromatin condensation and subsequent decondensation are processes required for proper execution of various cellular events. During mitosis, chromatin compaction is at its highest, whereas relaxation of chromatin is necessary for DNA replication, repair, recombination, and gene transcription. Since histone proteins are directly complexed with DNA in the form of a nucleosome, great emphasis is put on deciphering histone post-translational modifications that control the chromatin condensation state. Histone H3 phosphorylation is a mark present in mitosis, where chromatin condensation is necessary, and in transcriptional activation of genes, when chromatin needs to be decondensed. There are four characterized phospho residues within the H3 N-terminal tail during mitosis: Thr3, Ser10, Thr11, and Ser28. Interestingly, H3 phosphorylated at Ser10, Thr11, and Ser28 has been observed on genomic regions of transcriptionally active genes. Therefore, H3 phosphorylation is involved in processes requiring opposing chromatin states. The level of H3 phosphorylation is mediated by opposing actions of specific kinases and phosphatases during mitosis and gene transcription. The cellular contexts under which specific residues on H3 are phosphorylated in mitosis and interphase are known to some extent. However, the functional consequences of H3 phosphorylation are still unclear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Histones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interphase / physiology*
  • Meiosis / physiology
  • Mitosis / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation / physiology
  • Protamine Kinase / metabolism*
  • Protamine Kinase / physiology


  • Histones
  • Protamine Kinase