Moonlighting in Mitosis: Analysis of the Mitotic Functions of Transcription and Splicing Factors

Maria Patrizia Somma, Evgeniya N. Andreyeva, Gera A. Pavlova, Claudia Pellacani, Elisabetta Bucciarelli, Julia V. Popova, Silvia Bonaccorsi, Alexey V. Pindyurin, Maurizio Gatti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Moonlighting proteins can perform one or more additional functions besides their primary role. It has been posited that a protein can acquire a moonlighting function through a gradual evolutionary process, which is favored when the primary and secondary functions are exerted in different cellular compartments. Transcription factors (TFs) and splicing factors (SFs) control processes that occur in interphase nuclei and are strongly reduced during cell division, and are therefore in a favorable situation to evolve moonlighting mitotic functions. However, recently published moonlighting protein databases, which comprise almost 400 proteins, do not include TFs and SFs with secondary mitotic functions. We searched the literature and found several TFs and SFs with bona fide moonlighting mitotic functions, namely they localize to specific mitotic structure(s), interact with proteins enriched in the same structure(s), and are required for proper morphology and functioning of the structure(s). In addition, we describe TFs and SFs that localize to mitotic structures but cannot be classified as moonlighting proteins due to insufficient data on their biochemical interactions and mitotic roles. Nevertheless, we hypothesize that most TFs and SFs with specific mitotic localizations have either minor or redundant moonlighting functions, or are evolving towards the acquisition of these functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 26 2020


  • centrosomes
  • kinetochores
  • microtubules
  • midbody
  • mitosis
  • multifunctional proteins
  • protein moonlighting
  • spindle
  • splicing factors
  • transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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