Akt phosphorylates the transcriptional repressor Bmi1 to block its effects on the tumor-suppressing Ink4a-Arf locus
Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16
Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
The Polycomb group protein Bmi1 is a transcriptional silencer of the Ink4a-Arf locus, which encodes the cell cycle regulator p16(Ink4a) and the tumor suppressor p19(Arf). Bmi1 plays a key role in oncogenesis and stem cell self-renewal. We report that phosphorylation of human Bmi1 at Ser³¹⁶ by Akt impaired its function by triggering its dissociation from the Ink4a-Arf locus, which resulted in decreased ubiquitylation of histone H2A and the inability of Bmi1 to promote cellular proliferation and tumor growth. Moreover, Akt-mediated phosphorylation of Bmi1 also inhibited its ability to promote self-renewal of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Our study provides a mechanism for the increased abundance of p16(Ink4a) and p19(Arf) seen in cancer cells with an activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase to Akt signaling pathway and identifies crosstalk between phosphorylation events and chromatin structure.