Navigation Links
Aurora B answers an XIST-ential question

Early in development, mammalian female cells counteract their double dose of X chromosomes by coating one of them with a large RNA named XIST. The RNA binds to the same X chromosome from which it is transcribed and initiates a series of events leading to the chromosome's permanent silencing. In the August 24, 2009 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology (, Hall et al. exploit the fact that XIST temporarily dissociates from the X chromosome during mitosis and find that Aurora B kinase helps regulate the RNA's chromatin binding.

Although more than 10 years have passed since XIST was shown to paint the inactivated X (Xi) chromosome, little is known of how the 14-kb, noncoding transcript binds its target. "We know it doesn't just bind the DNA, but no specific binding proteins have been identified," says lead author Lisa Hall. Biochemical approaches to finding protein partners may have been hampered by XIST's large size and tight association with the X chromosome, making it hard to extract the RNA complex and study it in vitro. So Hall, together with colleagues in Jeanne Lawrence's laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, took an in vivo approachmimicking the events that cause XIST to drop off the Xi in early prophase.

Hall and colleagues found that treating cells with an inhibitor of protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) caused XIST to be released from the Xi in interphase cells. PP1 usually keeps the kinase Aurora B in check until the start of mitosis, so the team wondered whether XIST's premature release was driven by increased Aurora B activity. XIST was no longer released in interphase cells if PP1 and Aurora B were both inhibited. Moreover, inhibiting Aurora B with either drugs or a specific siRNA caused XIST to be retained on the Xi even in mitotic cells.

Lawrence says that the team was excited to identify Aurora B as a regulator of XIST. Their previous studies had suggested that a broader chromatin organizer might control XIST binding, particularly during cancer when the regulation of XIST and the Xi often goes awry. Aurora B fits the bill perfectly as it localizes to the chromosome arms at prophase, phosphorylates several chromatin proteins including histone H3, and is frequently activated in cancer cells.

It remains unclear exactly how Aurora B promotes XIST's loss from the Xi. "There are probably multiple places that XIST anchors to chromatin," says Lawrence. "In order to release it, you have to modify multiple points." Further studies on the mitotic loss of XIST should help identify these different anchor points and determine how they are modified to promote or block RNA binding.

XIST may, in fact, represent a broader class of noncoding RNAs that associate with and regulate heterochromatin. "We hope that manipulating binding in vivo provides a new way to study RNAchromatin interactions that other labs will build on," says Lawrence. "It will be interesting to determine if these other RNAs mirror the behavior of XIST and are controlled by the same mechanism."


Contact: Rita Sullivan
Rockefeller University Press

Related biology news :

1. New supercomputer to reel in answers to some of Earths problems
2. Grant to fund answers about St. Johns River
3. MIT: No easy answers in evolution of human language
4. Fungus genome yielding answers to protect grains, people and animals
5. Recent news reports of sweetener reformulations raise questions about motivations
6. Work of Field Museum scientist addresses question of chance in evolution
7. Ecologists question effects of climate change on infectious diseases
8. Mountain on Mars may answer big question
9. New models question old assumptions about how many molecules it takes to control cell division
10. Similar survival rates for Pacific salmon in Fraser, Columbia Rivers raises new questions
11. Study of polar dinosaur migration questions whether dinosaurs were truly the first great migrators
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Aurora B answers an XIST-ential question
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, a ... that it has released a new version of its ... in North America have already ... v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF certified server ... already preparing to activate FIDO features. These customers include ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph ... explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business ... The Internet of Healthy Things . ... smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, ... care delivery, moving care from the hospital or doctor,s ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015 Today, LifeBEAM ... partnership with 2XU, a global leader in technical ... smart hat with advanced bio-sensing technology. The hat ... to monitor key biometrics to improve overall training ... the two companies will bring together the most advanced ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ... today reported financial results for the quarter ended ... expressed in Canadian dollars and presented under International ... United States ," said Andrew Rae ... advancements regarding iCo-008 are not only value enriching ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical ... today announced that the company has set a new quarterly earnings ... on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of ... Mexico , with the establishment of an ... --> United Kingdom and Mexico ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SHPG ) announced today that Jeff ... 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in New York ... a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ) announced ... in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Twist Bioscience, a company focused on ... Twist Bioscience chief executive officer, will present at ... 1, 2015 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time at The Lotte ... --> --> About ... is on Twitter. Sign up to follow our ...
Breaking Biology Technology: