Faculty Summaries
Tim J. Yen, PhD
Tim J. Yen, PhD
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
  • Director, Electron Microscopy Facility
  • Director, Light Microscopy Facility
  • Director, Small Animal Imaging Facility
Office Phone: 215-728-2590
Lab Phone: 215-728-4311
Fax: 215-728-2412
Office: R310
  • 1. Phosphorylation Sites in BubR1 that Regulate Kinetochore Attachment, Tension and Mitotic Exit
    Network of intersecting pathways that specify formation of a kinetochore module
    Network of intersecting pathways that specify formation of a kinetochore module

    BubR1 kinase is essential for the mitotic checkpoint and also for kinetochores to establish microtubule attachments. In this study, we report that BubR1 is phosphorylated in mitosis on four residues that differ from sites recently reported to be phosphorylated by Plk1 (Elowe, S., S. Hummer, A. Uldschmid, X. Li, and E.A. Nigg. 2007. Genes Dev. 21:2205–2219; Matsumura, S., F. Toyoshima, and E. Nishida. 2007. J. Biol. Chem. 282:15217–15227). S670, the most conserved residue, is phosphorylated at kinetochores at the onset of mitosis and dephosphorylated before anaphase onset. Unlike the Plk1-dependent S676 phosphorylation, S670 phosphorylation is sensitive to microtubule attachments but not to kinetochore tension. Functionally, phosphorylation of S670 is essential for error correction and for kinetochores with end-on attachments to establish tension. Furthermore, in vitro data suggest that the phosphorylation status of BubR1 is important for checkpoint inhibition of the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome. Finally, RNA interference experiments show that Mps1 is a major but not the exclusive kinase that specifies BubR1 phosphorylation in vivo. The combined data suggest that BubR1 may be an effector of multiple kinases that are involved in discrete aspects of kinetochore attachments and checkpoint regulation.

  • 2. Two Different Mitotic Checkpoint Inhibitors of the Anaphase-Promoting Complex/Cyclosome, Antagonizing the Action of the Activator Cdc20

    The mitotic checkpoint system ensures the fidelity of chromosome segregation by preventing the completion of mitosis in the presence of any misaligned chromosome. When activated, it blocks the initiation of anaphase by inhibiting the ubiquitin ligase anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C). Little is known about the biochemical mechanisms by which this system inhibits APC/C, except for the existence of a mitotic checkpoint complex (MCC) inhibitor of APC/C composed of the APC/C activator Cdc20 associated with the checkpoint proteins Mad2, BubR1, and Bub3. We have been studying the mechanisms of the mitotic checkpoint system in extracts that reproduce its downstream events. We found that inhibitory factors are associated with APC/C in the checkpoint-arrested state, which can be recovered from immunoprecipitates. Only a part of the inhibitory activity was caused by MCC [Braunstein I, Miniowitz S, Moshe Y, Hershko A (2007) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:4870-4875]. Here, we show that during exit from checkpoint, rapid disassembly of MCC takes place while APC/C is still inactive. This observation suggested the possible involvement of multiple factors in the regulation of APC/C by the mitotic checkpoint. We have separated a previously unknown inhibitor of APC/C from MCC. This inhibitor, called mitotic checkpoint factor 2 (MCF2), is associated with APC/C only in the checkpoint-arrested state. The inhibition of APC/C by both MCF2 and MCC was decreased at high concentrations of Cdc20. We propose that both MCF2 and MCC inhibit APC/C by antagonizing Cdc20, possibly by interaction with the Cdc20-binding site of APC/C.

  • 3. Tripin/hSgo2 Recruits MCAK to the Inner Centromere to Correct Defective Kinetochore Attachments

    hSgo2 (previously annotated as Tripin) was recently reported to be a new inner centromere protein that is essential for centromere cohesion (Kitajima et al., 2006). In this study, we show that hSgo2 exhibits a dynamic distribution pattern, and that its localization depends on the BUB1 and Aurora B kinases. hSgo2 is concentrated at the inner centromere of unattached kinetochores, but extends toward the kinetochores that are under tension. This localization pattern is reminiscent of MCAK, which is a microtubule depolymerase that is believed to be a key component of the error correction mechanism at kinetochores. Indeed, we found that hSgo2 is essential for MCAK to localize to the centromere. Delocalization of MCAK accounts for why cells depleted of hSgo2 exhibit kinetochore attachment defects that go uncorrected, despite a transient delay in the onset of anaphase. Consequently, these cells exhibit a high frequency of lagging chromosomes when they enter anaphase. We confirmed that hSgo2 is associated with PP2A, and we propose that it contributes to the spatial regulation of MCAK activity within inner centromere and kinetochore.