A Novel Epigenetic Function of WEE1

We discovered that WEE1 kinase phosphorylates histone H2B at tyrosine37 in a short window of 30-40 minutes in late S phase. Strikingly, this phosphorylation occurred upstream of histone cluster 1, Hist1 where majority of histone genes are located.

All eukaryotic cells precisely regulates histone levels by shutting off histone transcription at the end of DNA synthesis to avoid burdening histone turnover machinery to downregulate histones. However, the precise mechanism of this process is not fully understood. We discovered that WEE1 kinase deposit pY37-H2B epigenetic marks upstream of Hist1 cluster, suppressing global histone transcription in both yeast and mammalian cells.

Our data provides crucial evidence that in addition to mRNA turnover, histone transcription shut off would efficiently lower histone transcript levels once DNA synthesis is complete, thus eliminating overproduction of core histones.

Thus, we uncover previously unknown function of WEE1, a cell cycle regulator that has a dual role as an epigenetic modifier that maintains histone transcript levels

  • Reference:
  • Mahajan K, Fang B, Koomen JM and Mahajan NP*. H2B Tyr37 phosphorylation suppresses expression of replication-dependent core histone genes. Nature Structural & Molecular biology 2012. Pubmed ID: 22885324


WEE1 epigenetically regulates 5hmC levels

WEE1 kinase has been reported to be aberrantly expressed in melanomas, glioblastoma multiforme (GBMs), triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) and some prostate cnacers. Dependence of various cancer cells on WEE1 signaling suggests that targeting epigenentic activity of WEE1 is a viable strategy for overcoming tumor proliferation.


Clinical significance of WEE1-H2B epigenetic signaling in Melanoma, GBM and prostate cancer

WEE1-H2B epigenetic signaling plays a crucial role in various malignancies such as melanoma, GBM and prostate cancer

H2B Tyr37 phosphorylation upstream of Hist1 suppresses histone mRNA transcription: a model. WEE1 phosphorylates H2B at Tyr37 upstream of histone cluster 1, Hist1. NPAT is excluded from binding to the Hist1 cluster because of its inability to recognize Tyr37-phosphorylated H2B, which in turn inhibits RNA polymerase II (Pol II) recruitment. Subsequently, HIRA is recruited to Tyr37-phosphorylated H2B, preventing NPAT rebinding and effectively resulting in the suppression of histone mRNA synthesis.