Phosphorylation of histone H3 by Haspin regulates chromosome alignment and segregation during mitosis in maize

J Exp Bot. 2021 Feb 24;72(4):1046-1058. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eraa506.


In human cells, Haspin-mediated histone H3 threonine 3 (H3T3) phosphorylation promotes centromeric localization of the chromosomal passenger complex, thereby ensuring proper kinetochore-microtubule attachment. Haspin also binds to PDS5 cohesin-associated factor B (Pds5B), antagonizing the Wings apart-like protein homolog (Wapl)-Pds5B interaction and thus preventing Wapl from releasing centromeric cohesion during mitosis. However, the role of Haspin in plant chromosome segregation is not well understood. Here, we show that in maize (Zea mays) mitotic cells, ZmHaspin localized to the centromere during metaphase and anaphase, whereas it localized to the telomeres during meiosis. These results suggest that ZmHaspin plays different roles during mitosis and meiosis. Knockout of ZmHaspin led to decreased H3T3 phosphorylation and histone H3 serine 10 phosphorylation, and defects in chromosome alignment and segregation in mitosis. These lines of evidence suggest that Haspin regulates chromosome segregation in plants via the mechanism described for humans, namely, H3T3 phosphorylation. Plant Haspin proteins lack the RTYGA and PxVxL motifs needed to bind Pds5B and heterochromatin protein 1, and no obvious cohesion defects were detected in ZmHaspin knockout plants. Taken together, these results highlight the conserved but slightly different roles of Haspin proteins in cell division in plants and in animals.

Keywords: Centromere; H3T3ph; Haspin; chromosome alignment and segregation; cohesion; mitosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Centromere
  • Chromosome Segregation*
  • Histones* / metabolism
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mitosis*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases* / metabolism
  • Zea mays* / genetics
  • Zea mays* / metabolism


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Histones
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases