Precise control of the attachment strength between kinetochores and spindle microtubules is essential to preserve genomic stability. Aurora B kinase has been implicated in regulating the stability of kinetochore−microtubule attachments but its relevant kinetochore targets in cells remain unclear. Here, we identify multiple serine residues within the N-terminus of the kinetochore protein Hec1 that are phosphorylated in an Aurora-B-kinase-dependent manner during mitosis. On all identified target sites, Hec1 phosphorylation at kinetochores is high in early mitosis and decreases significantly as chromosomes bi-orient. Furthermore, once dephosphorylated, Hec1 is not highly rephosphorylated in response to loss of kinetochore−microtubule attachment or tension. We find that a subpopulation of Aurora B kinase remains localized at the outer kinetochore even upon Hec1 dephosphorylation, suggesting that Hec1 phosphorylation by Aurora B might not be regulated wholly by spatial positioning of the kinase. Our results define a role for Hec1 phosphorylation in kinetochore−microtubule destabilization and error correction in early mitosis and for Hec1 dephosphorylation in maintaining stable attachments in late mitosis.
- Accepted October 21, 2010.