Cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) are the central regulators of the cell division cycle. Inhibitors of Cdks ensure proper coordination of cell cycle events and help regulate cell proliferation in the context of tissues and organs. Wee1 homologs phosphorylate a conserved tyrosine to inhibit the mitotic cyclin-dependent kinase Cdk1 . Loss of Wee1 function in fission or budding yeast causes premature entry into mitosis [2, 3]. The importance of metazoan Wee1 homologs for timing mitosis, however, has been demonstrated only in Xenopus egg extracts and via ectopic Cdk1 activation [4, 5]. Here, we report that Drosophila Wee1 (dWee1) regulates Cdk1 via phosphorylation of tyrosine 15 and times mitotic entry during the cortical nuclear cycles of syncytial blastoderm embryos, which lack gap phases. Loss of maternal dwee1 leads to premature entry into mitosis, mitotic spindle defects, chromosome condensation problems, and a Chk2-dependent block of subsequent development, and then embryonic lethality. These findings modify previous models about cell cycle regulation in syncytial embryos  and demonstrate that Wee1 kinases can regulate mitotic entry in vivo during metazoan development even in cycles that lack a G2 phase.
Cdc14A phosphatase regulates Wee1 kinase through dephosphorylation of two Cdk phosphorylation sites in its regulatory domain, Ser-123 and -139, both involved in the degradation of Wee1 at the entry into mitosis. In this way, Cdc14A interferes with the negative feedback loop between Wee1 and Cdk1 to regulate the mitotic switch.
The activity of Cdk1–cyclin B1 mitotic complexes is regulated by the balance between the counteracting activities of Wee1/Myt1 kinases and Cdc25 phosphatases. These kinases and phosphatases must be strictly regulated to ensure proper mitotic timing. One masterpiece of this regulatory network is Cdk1, which promotes Cdc25 activity and suppresses inhibitory Wee1/Myt1 kinases through direct phosphorylation. The Cdk1-dependent phosphorylation of Wee1 primes phosphorylation by additional kinases such as Plk1, triggering Wee1 degradation at the onset of mitosis. Here we report that Cdc14A plays an important role in the regulation of Wee1 stability. Depletion of Cdc14A results in a significant reduction in Wee1 protein levels. Cdc14A binds to Wee1 at its amino-terminal domain and reverses CDK-mediated Wee1 phosphorylation. In particular, we found that Cdc14A inhibits Wee1 degradation through the dephosphorylation of Ser-123 and Ser-139 residues. Thus the lack of phosphorylation of these two residues prevents the interaction with Plk1 and the consequent efficient Wee1 degradation at the onset of mitosis. These data support the hypothesis that Cdc14A counteracts Cdk1–cyclin B1 activity through Wee1 dephosphorylation.
Wee1 kinase regulates the G2/M cell cycle checkpoint by phosphorylating and inactivating the mitotic cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1). Loss of Wee1 in many systems, including yeast and drosophila, leads to premature mitotic entry. However, the developmental role of Wee1 in mammals remains unclear. In this study, we established Wee1 knockout mice by gene targeting. We found that Wee-/- embryos were defective in the G2/M cell cycle checkpoint induced by γ-irradiation and died of apoptosis before embryonic (E) day 3.5. To study the function of Wee1 further, we have developed MEF cells in which Wee1 is disrupted by a tamoxifen inducible Cre-LoxP approach. We found that acute deletion of Wee1 resulted in profound growth defects and cell death. Wee1 deficient cells displayed chromosome aneuploidy and DNA damage as revealed by γ-H2AX foci formation and Chk2 activation. Further studies revealed a conserved mechanism of Wee1 in regulating mitotic entry and the G2/M checkpoint compared with other lower organisms. These data provide in vivo evidence that mammalian Wee1 plays a critical role in maintaining genome integrity and is essential for embryonic survival at the pre-implantation stage of mouse development.
Cdk1; Chk2; G2/M; apoptosis; genetic instability
The kinase Wee1 has been recognized for a quarter century as a key inhibitor of Cyclin dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) and mitotic entry in eukaryotes. Nonetheless, Wee1 regulation is not well understood and its large amino-terminal regulatory domain (NRD) has remained largely uncharted. Evidence has accumulated that cyclin B/Cdk1 complexes reciprocally inhibit Wee1 activity through NRD phosphorylation. Recent studies have identified the first functional NRD elements and suggested that vertebrate cyclin A/Cdk2 complexes also phosphorylate the NRD. A short NRD peptide, termed the Wee box, augments the activity of the Wee1 kinase domain. Cdk1/2-mediated phosphorylation of the Wee box (on T239) antagonizes kinase activity. A nearby region harbors a conserved RxL motif (RxL1) that promotes cyclin A/Cdk2 binding and T239 phosphorylation. Mutation of either T239 or RxL1 bolsters the ability of Wee1 to block mitotic entry, consistent with negative regulation of Wee1 through these sites. The region in human somatic Wee1 that encompasses RxL1 also binds Crm1, directing Wee1 export from the nucleus. These studies have illuminated important aspects of Wee1 regulation and defined a specific molecular pathway through which cyclin A/Cdk2 complexes foster mitotic entry. The complexity, speed, and importance of regulation of mitotic entry suggest that there is more to be learned.
The cell cycles of the Xenopus laevis embryo undergo extensive remodeling beginning at the midblastula transition (MBT) of early development. Cell divisions 2–12 consist of rapid cleavages without gap phases or cell cycle checkpoints. Some remodeling events depend upon a critical nucleo-cytoplasmic ratio, whereas others rely on a maternal timer controlled by cyclin E/Cdk2 activity. One key event that occurs at the MBT is the degradation of maternal Wee1, a negative regulator of cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) activity.
In order to assess the effect of Wee1 on embryonic cell cycle remodeling, Wee1 mRNA was injected into one-cell stage embryos. Overexpression of Wee1 caused cell cycle delay and tyrosine phosphorylation of Cdks prior to the MBT. Furthermore, overexpression of Wee1 disrupted key developmental events that normally occur at the MBT such as the degradation of Cdc25A, cyclin E, and Wee1. Overexpression of Wee1 also resulted in post-MBT apoptosis, tyrosine phosphorylation of Cdks and persistence of cyclin E/Cdk2 activity. To determine whether Cdk2 was required specifically for the survival of the embryo, the cyclin E/Cdk2 inhibitor, Δ34-Xic1, was injected in embryos and also shown to induce apoptosis.
Taken together, these data suggest that Wee1 triggers apoptosis through the disruption of the cyclin E/Cdk2 timer. In contrast to Wee1 and Δ34-Xic1, altering Cdks by expression of Chk1 and Chk2 kinases blocks rather than promotes apoptosis and causes premature degradation of Cdc25A. Collectively, these data implicate Cdc25A as a key player in the developmentally regulated program of apoptosis in X. laevis embryos.
Sophisticated models for the regulation of mitotic entry are lacking for human cells. Inactivating human cyclin A/Cdk2 complexes through diverse approaches delays mitotic entry and promotes inhibitory phosphorylation of Cdk1 on tyrosine 15, a modification performed by Wee1. We show here that cyclin A/Cdk2 complexes physically associate with Wee1 in U2OS cells. Mutation of four conserved RXL cyclin A/Cdk binding motifs (RXL1 to RXL4) in Wee1 diminished stable binding. RXL1 resides within a large regulatory region of Wee1 that is predicted to be intrinsically disordered (residues 1 to 292). Near RXL1 is T239, a site of inhibitory Cdk phosphorylation in Xenopus Wee1 proteins. We found that T239 is phosphorylated in human Wee1 and that this phosphorylation was reduced in an RXL1 mutant. RXL1 and T239 mutants each mediated greater Cdk phosphorylation and G2/M inhibition than the wild type, suggesting that cyclin A/Cdk complexes inhibit human Wee1 through these sites. The RXL1 mutant uniquely also displayed increased nuclear localization. RXL1 is embedded within sequences homologous to Crm1-dependent nuclear export signals (NESs). Coimmunoprecipitation showed that Crm1 associated with Wee1. Moreover, treatment with the Crm1 inhibitor leptomycin B or independent mutation of the potential NES (NESm) abolished Wee1 nuclear export. Export was also reduced by Cdk inhibition or cyclin A RNA interference, suggesting that cyclin A/Cdk complexes contribute to Wee1 export. Somewhat surprisingly, NESm did not display increased G2/M inhibition. Thus, nuclear export of Wee1 is not essential for mitotic entry though an important functional role remains likely. These studies identify a novel bifunctional regulatory element in Wee1 that mediates cyclin A/Cdk2 association and nuclear export.
The serine/threonine kinase Akt is known to promote cell growth by regulating the cell cycle in G1 phase through activation of cyclin/Cdk kinases and inactivation of Cdk inhibitors. However, how the G2/M phase is regulated by Akt remains unclear. Here, we show that Akt counteracts the function of WEE1Hu. Inactivation of Akt by chemotherapeutic drugs or the phosphatidylinositide-3-OH kinase inhibitor LY294002 induced G2/M arrest together with the inhibitory phosphorylation of Cdc2. Because the increased Cdc2 phosphorylation was completely suppressed by wee1hu gene silencing, WEE1Hu was associated with G2/M arrest induced by Akt inactivation. Further analyses revealed that Akt directly bound to and phosphorylated WEE1Hu during the S to G2 phase. Serine-642 was identified as an Akt-dependent phosphorylation site. WEE1Hu kinase activity was not affected by serine-642 phosphorylation. We revealed that serine-642 phosphorylation promoted cytoplasmic localization of WEE1Hu. The nuclear-to-cytoplasmic translocation was mediated by phosphorylation-dependent WEE1Hu binding to 14-3-3θ but not 14-3-3β or -σ. These results indicate that Akt promotes G2/M cell cycle progression by inducing phosphorylation-dependent 14-3-3θ binding and cytoplasmic localization of WEE1Hu.
Using a polymerase chain reaction-based strategy, we have isolated a gene encoding a Wee1-like kinase from Xenopus eggs. The recombinant Xenopus Wee1 protein efficiently phosphorylates Cdc2 exclusively on Tyr-15 in a cyclin-dependent manner. The addition of exogenous Wee1 protein to Xenopus cell cycle extracts results in a dose-dependent delay of mitotic initiation that is accompanied by enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of Cdc2. The activity of the Wee1 protein is highly regulated during the cell cycle: the interphase, underphosphorylated form of Wee1 (68 kDa) phosphorylates Cdc2 very efficiently, whereas the mitotic, hyperphosphorylated version (75 kDa) is weakly active as a Cdc2-specific tyrosine kinase. The down-modulation of Wee1 at mitosis is directly attributable to phosphorylation, since dephosphorylation with protein phosphatase 2A restores its kinase activity. During interphase, the activity of this Wee1 homolog does not vary in response to the presence of unreplicated DNA. The mitosis-specific phosphorylation of Wee1 is due to at least two distinct kinases: the Cdc2 protein and another activity (kinase X) that may correspond to an MPM-2 epitope kinase. These studies indicate that the down-regulation of Wee1-like kinase activity at mitosis is a multistep process that occurs after other biochemical reactions have signaled the successful completion of S phase.
Wee1 kinases delay entry into mitosis by phosphorylating and inactivating cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1). Loss of this activity in many systems, including Drosophila, leads to premature mitotic entry.
We report here that Drosophila Wee1 (dwee1) mutant embryos show mitotic-spindle defects that include ectopic foci of microtubule organization, formation of multipolar spindles from adjacent centrosome pairs, and promiscuous interactions between neighboring spindles. Furthermore, centrosomes are displaced from the embryo cortex in dwee1 mutants. These defects are not observed to the same extent in embryos in which nuclei also enter mitosis prematurely as a result of a lack of checkpoint control or in embryos with elevated Cdk1 activity. dWee1 physically interacts with members of the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC), and γ-tubulin is phosphorylated in a dwee1-dependent manner in embryo extracts.
Some of the abnormalities in dwee1 mutant embryos cannot be explained by premature entry into mitosis or bulk elevation of Cdk1 activity. Instead, dWee1 is also required for phosphorylation of γ-tubulin, centrosome positioning, and mitotic-spindle integrity. We propose a model to account for these requirements.
The Cdk1 inhibitor Wee1 is inactivated during mitotic entry by proteolysis, translational regulation, and transcriptional regulation. Wee1 is also regulated by posttranslational modifications, and here we have identified five phosphorylation sites in the N-terminal domain of embryonic Xenopus Wee1A through a combination of mutagenesis studies and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry. All five sites conform to the Ser-Pro/Thr-Pro consensus for proline-directed kinases like Cdks. Three of the sites (Ser 38, Thr 53, and Ser 62) are required for the mitotic gel shift, and at least two of these sites (Ser 38 and Thr 53) regulate the proteolysis of Wee1A during interphase. The other two sites (Thr 104 and Thr 150) are primarily responsible for the mitotic inactivation of Wee1A. Alanine mutants of Thr 150 or Thr 104 had an increased capacity to inhibit mitotic entry in cyclin B-treated interphase extracts, and Thr 150 was found to be transiently phosphorylated just prior to nuclear envelope breakdown in cycling egg extracts. These findings establish the phosphorylation-dependent direct inactivation of Wee1A as a critical mechanism for the promotion of M-phase entry. These results also show that multisite phosphorylation cooperatively inactivates Wee1A and cooperatively promotes Wee1A proteolysis.
In self-fertile strains of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, nitrogen starvation initiates a program of sexual development in which cells express mating pheromones and receptors, arrest cell cycle progression in G1, and conjugate. This process is dependent on Rum1, an inhibitor of the Cdc2-Cdc13 and Cdc2-Cig2 cyclin B kinases. The M-phase induction activity of Cdc2-Cdc13 is inhibited by Wee1 tyrosine kinase, which phosphorylates Cdc2 on tyrosine-15. We report here that Wee1 activity is also important for mating. This discovery arose from studies of Nim1, a kinase which promotes mitosis by inhibiting Wee1. Nim1 was previously thought to have an important role in promoting mitosis during nitrogen starvation, but our studies revealed that Nim1 protein drops to an undetectable level within 15 min of nitrogen depletion. In contrast, Wee1 remains abundant, and tyrosine-phosphorylated Cdc2 is detected for at least 4 h after resuspension of cells in nitrogen-free medium. This suggested that maintenance of Wee1 activity may be important during the early stages of nitrogen starvation, a proposal confirmed by the observation that mating efficiency is reduced ca. fivefold in wee1- cells. Transcriptional induction of genes encoding mating factors and receptors is also delayed in wee1- cells. The wee1- mating defect is suppressed by deletion of cig2+, which encodes a B-type cyclin that promotes the onset of S and inhibits conjugation. These findings indicate that Wee1 and Rum1 act jointly to inhibit Cdc2 and promote sexual development in nitrogen-starved cells.
Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a key regulator of mitosis, but the roles that it plays are poorly understood. New evidence in budding yeast shows that the Zds proteins form a tight stoichiometric complex with PP2A and target its activity to the Cdc25 phosphatase, which is a key regulator of entry into mitosis.
The Wee1 kinase restrains entry into mitosis by phosphorylating and inhibiting cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1). The Cdc25 phosphatase promotes entry into mitosis by removing Cdk1 inhibitory phosphorylation. Experiments in diverse systems have established that Wee1 and Cdc25 are regulated by protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), but a full understanding of the function and regulation of PP2A in entry into mitosis has remained elusive. In budding yeast, entry into mitosis is controlled by a specific form of PP2A that is associated with the Cdc55 regulatory subunit (PP2ACdc55). We show here that related proteins called Zds1 and Zds2 form a tight stoichiometric complex with PP2ACdc55 and target its activity to Cdc25 but not to Wee1. Conditional inactivation of the Zds proteins revealed that their function is required primarily at entry into mitosis. In addition, Zds1 undergoes cell cycle–dependent changes in phosphorylation. Together, these observations define a role for the Zds proteins in controlling specific functions of PP2ACdc55 and suggest that upstream signals that regulate PP2ACdc55 may play an important role in controlling entry into mitosis.
Wee1 is highly dynamic at the SPB during the G2/M transition. Wee1 accumulates at the nuclear face of the SPB when cyclin B–Cdc2 peaks at the SPB and disappears from the SPB during spindle assembly. This dynamic behavior of Wee1 at the SPB is important for regulation of cyclin B–Cdc2 activity and proper mitotic entry and progression.
Wee1 is a protein kinase that negatively regulates mitotic entry in G2 phase by suppressing cyclin B–Cdc2 activity, but its spatiotemporal regulations remain to be elucidated. We observe the dynamic behavior of Wee1 in Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells and manipulate its localization and kinase activity to study its function. At late G2, nuclear Wee1 efficiently suppresses cyclin B–Cdc2 around the spindle pole body (SPB). During the G2/M transition when cyclin B–Cdc2 is highly enriched at the SPB, Wee1 temporally accumulates at the nuclear face of the SPB in a cyclin B–Cdc2-dependent manner and locally suppresses both cyclin B–Cdc2 activity and spindle assembly to counteract a Polo kinase–dependent positive feedback loop. Then Wee1 disappears from the SPB during spindle assembly. We propose that regulation of Wee1 localization around the SPB during the G2/M transition is important for proper mitotic entry and progression.
The Wee1 kinase inhibits cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) during early mitosis. A low level of Cdk1 activity must escape Wee1 inhibition to initiate early mitotic events, but the underlying mechanisms have remained unknown. In this paper, we show that a specific form of protein phosphatase 2A opposes activation of Wee1, which allows low-level activation of Cdk1 in early mitosis.
Entry into mitosis is initiated by synthesis of cyclins, which bind and activate cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1). Cyclin synthesis is gradual, yet activation of Cdk1 occurs in a stepwise manner: a low level of Cdk1 activity is initially generated that triggers early mitotic events, which is followed by full activation of Cdk1. Little is known about how stepwise activation of Cdk1 is achieved. A key regulator of Cdk1 is the Wee1 kinase, which phosphorylates and inhibits Cdk1. Wee1 and Cdk1 show mutual regulation: Cdk1 phosphorylates Wee1, which activates Wee1 to inhibit Cdk1. Further phosphorylation events inactivate Wee1. We discovered that a specific form of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2ACdc55) opposes the initial phosphorylation of Wee1 by Cdk1. In vivo analysis, in vitro reconstitution, and mathematical modeling suggest that PP2ACdc55 sets a threshold that limits activation of Wee1, thereby allowing a low constant level of Cdk1 activity to escape Wee1 inhibition in early mitosis. These results define a new role for PP2ACdc55 and reveal a systems-level mechanism by which dynamically opposed kinase and phosphatase activities can modulate signal strength.
Notoriously resistant malignant melanoma is one of the most increasing forms of cancer worldwide; there is thus a precarious need for new treatment options. The Wee1 kinase is a major regulator of the G2/M checkpoint, and halts the cell cycle by adding a negative phosphorylation on CDK1 (Tyr15). Additionally, Wee1 has a function in safeguarding the genome integrity during DNA synthesis. To assess the role of Wee1 in development and progression of malignant melanoma we examined its expression in a panel of paraffin-embedded patient derived tissue of benign nevi and primary- and metastatic melanomas, as well as in agarose-embedded cultured melanocytes. We found that Wee1 expression increased in the direction of malignancy, and showed a strong, positive correlation with known biomarkers involved in cell cycle regulation: Cyclin A (p<0.0001), Ki67 (p<0.0001), Cyclin D3 (p = 0.001), p21Cip1/WAF1 (p = 0.003), p53 (p = 0.025). Furthermore, high Wee1 expression was associated with thicker primary tumors (p = 0.001), ulceration (p = 0.005) and poor disease-free survival (p = 0.008). Transfections using siWee1 in metastatic melanoma cell lines; WM239WTp53, WM45.1MUTp53 and LOXWTp53, further support our hypothesis of a tumor promoting role of Wee1 in melanomas. Whereas no effect was observed in LOX cells, transfection with siWee1 led to accumulation of cells in G1/S and S phase of the cell cycle in WM239 and WM45.1 cells, respectively. Both latter cell lines displayed DNA damage and induction of apoptosis, in the absence of Wee1, indicating that the effect of silencing Wee1 may not be solely dependent of the p53 status of the cells. Together these results reveal the importance of Wee1 as a prognostic biomarker in melanomas, and indicate a potential role for targeted therapy, alone or in combination with other agents.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vpr induces cell cycle arrest at the G2/M transition and subsequently apoptosis. Here we examined the potential involvement of Wee-1 in Vpr-induced G2 arrest. Wee-1 is a cellular protein kinase that inhibits Cdc2 activity, thereby preventing cells from proceeding through mitosis. We previously showed that the levels of Wee-1 correlate with Vpr-mediated apoptosis. Here, we demonstrate that Vpr-induced G2 arrest correlated with delayed degradation of Wee-1 at G2/M. Experimental depletion of Wee-1 by a small interfering RNA directed to wee-1 mRNA alleviated Vpr-induced G2 arrest and allowed apparently normal progression through M into G1. Similar results were observed when cells were arrested at G2 following gamma irradiation. Thus, Wee-1 is integrally involved as a key cellular regulatory protein in the signal transduction pathway for HIV-1 Vpr-induced cell cycle arrest.
The regulation of mitotic entry in somatic cells differs from embryonic cells, yet it is only for embryonic cells that we have a quantitative understanding of this process. To gain a similar insight into somatic cells, we developed a human cell extract system that recapitulates CDK1 activation and nuclear envelope breakdown in response to mitotic cyclins. As cyclin B concentrations increase, CDK1 activates in a three-stage nonlinear response, creating an ordering of substrate phosphorylations. This response is established by dual regulatory feedback loops involving WEE1/MYT1, which impose a cyclin B threshold, and CDC25, which allows CDK1 to escape the WEE1/MYT1 inhibition. This system also exhibits a complex response to cyclin A. Cyclin A promotes WEE1 phosphorylation to weaken the negative loop and primes mitotic entry through cyclin B. This observation explains the requirement of both cyclins A and B to initiate mitosis in somatic cells.
Cdc2 kinase activity is required for triggering entry into mitosis in all known eukaryotes. Elaborate mechanisms have evolved for regulating Cdc2 activity so that mitosis occurs in a timely manner, when preparations for its execution are complete. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Wee1 and a related Mik1 kinase are Cdc2-inhibitory kinases that are required for preventing premature activation of the mitotic program. To identify Cdc2-inhibitory kinases in Drosophila, we screened for cDNA clones that rescue S. pombe wee1- mik1- mutants from lethal mitotic catastrophe. One of the genes identified in this screen, Drosophila wee1 (Dwee1), encodes a new Wee1 homologue. Dwee1 kinase is closely related to human and Xenopus Wee1 homologues, and can inhibit Cdc2 activity by phosphorylating a critical tyrosine residue. Dwee1 mRNA is maternally provided to embryos, and is zygotically expressed during the postblastoderm divisions of embryogenesis. Expression remains high in the proliferating cells of the central nervous system well after cells in the rest of the embryo have ceased dividing. The loss of zygotically expressed Dwee1 does not lead to mitotic catastrophe during postblastoderm cycles 14 to 16. This result may indicate that maternally provided Dwee1 is sufficient for regulating Cdc2 during embryogenesis, or it may reflect the presence of a redundant Cdc2 inhibitory kinase, as in fission yeast.
Movement through the cell cycle is controlled by the temporally and spatially ordered activation of cyclin-dependent kinases paired with their respective cyclin binding partners. Cell cycle events occur in a stepwise fashion and are monitored by molecular surveillance systems to ensure that each cell cycle process is appropriately completed before subsequent events are initiated. Cells prevent entry into mitosis while DNA replication is ongoing, or if DNA is damaged, via checkpoint mechanisms that inhibit the activators and activate the inhibitors of mitosis, Cdc25 and Wee1, respectively. Once DNA replication has been faithfully completed, Cdc2/Cyclin B is swiftly activated for a timely transition from interphase into mitosis. This sharp transition is propagated through both positive and negative feedback loops that impinge upon Cdc25 and Wee1 to ensure that Cdc2/Cyclin B is fully activated. Recent reports from a number of laboratories have revealed a remarkably complex network of kinases and phosphatases that coordinately control Cdc25 and Wee1, thereby precisely regulating the transition into mitosis. Although not all factors that inhibit Cdc25 have been shown to activate Wee1 and vice versa, a number of regulatory modules are clearly shared in common. Thus, studies on either the Cdc25 or Wee1-regulatory arm of the mitotic control pathway should continue to shed light on how both arms are coordinated to smoothly regulate mitotic entry.
Entry into mitosis is catalyzed by cdc2 kinase. Previous work identified the cdc2-activating phosphatase cdc25C and the cdc2-inhibitory kinase wee1 as targets of the incomplete replication-induced kinase Chk1. Further work led to the model that checkpoint kinases block mitotic entry by inhibiting cdc25C through phosphorylation on Ser287 and activating wee1 through phosphorylation on Ser549. However, almost all conclusions underlying this idea were drawn from work using recombinant proteins. Here, we report that in the early Xenopus egg cell cycles, phosphorylation of endogenous cdc25C Ser287 is normally high during interphase and shows no obvious increase after checkpoint activation. By contrast, endogenous wee1 Ser549 phosphorylation is low during interphase and increases after activation of either the DNA damage or replication checkpoints; this is accompanied by a slight increase in wee1 kinase activity. Blocking mitotic entry by adding the catalytic subunit of PKA also results in increased wee1 Ser549 phosphorylation and maintenance of cdc25C Ser287 phosphorylation. These results argue that in response to checkpoint activation, endogenous wee1 is indeed a critical responder that functions by repressing the cdc2-cdc25C positive feedback loop. Surprisingly, endogenous wee1 Ser549 phosphorylation is highest during mitosis just after the peak of cdc2 activity. Treatments that block inactivation of cdc2 result in further increases in wee1 Ser549 phosphorylation, suggesting a previously unsuspected role for wee1 in mitosis.
Mitotic spindle assembly and maintenance relies on Kinesin-5 motors that act as bipolar homotetramers to cross-link microtubules [1–5]. Kinesin-5 motors have been subject to extensive structure-function analysis , but the regulation of their activity in the context of mitotic progression remains less well understood . We report that Drosophila Kinesin-5 (KLP61F) is regulated by Drosophila Wee1 (dWee1). Wee1 tyrosine kinases are known to regulate mitotic entry via inhibitory phosphorylation on Cdk1 [6–10]. Recently, we showed that dWee1 also plays a role in mitotic spindle positioning through γ-tubulin and spindle fidelity through an unknown mechanism . Here we investigated whether a KLP61F-dWee1 interaction could explain the latter role for dWee1. We found that dWee1 phosphorylates KLP61F in vitro on three tyrosines within the head domain, the catalytic region that mediates movement along microtubules. In vivo, KLP61F with tyrosine-to-phenylalanine mutations fails to complement a klp61f mutant and dominantly induces spindle defects similar to ones seen in dwee1 mutants. We propose that phosphorylation of the KLP61F catalytic domain by dWee1 is important for the motor’s function. This study identifies a second substrate for a Wee1 kinase and provides evidence for phospho-regulation of a kinesin in the head domain.
Granzymes are a family of granule-associated serine esterases that mediate apoptosis by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells. We have previously shown that cdc2, the mitosis-regulating cyclin- dependent kinase, is required for granzyme B-induced apoptosis in target cells. In addition, granzyme B induces premature activation and tyrosine dephosphorylation of cdc2 during apoptosis. Throughout most of the cell cycle and until the cell is prepared to enter mitosis, cdc2 kinase activity is negatively regulated by phosphorylation of a residue within its adenosine triphosphate-binding domain by Wee1, a nuclear kinase that maintains mitotic timing in eukaryotic cells. We have transiently expressed c-myc epitope-tagged Wee1 cDNA in BHK cells. Cells that expressed Wee1 in the nucleus became resistant to apoptosis induced by granzyme B and perforin. Wee1-transfected cells also exhibited markedly increased cdc2 tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, Wee1 can rescue cells from granzyme-induced apoptosis by preventing cdc2 dephosphorylation.
Most cells enter mitosis once they have reached a defined size. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, mitotic entry is orchestrated by a geometry-sensing mechanism that involves the Cdk1/Cdc2-inhibiting Wee1 kinase. The factors upstream of Wee1 gather together in interphase to form a characteristic medial and cortical belt of nodes. Nodes are also considered to be precursors of the cytokinesis contractile actomyosin ring (CAR). Here we describe a new component of the interphase nodes and cytokinesis rings, which we named Nod1. Consistent with its role in cell size control at division, nod1Δ cells were elongated and epistatic with regulators of Wee1. Through biochemical and localisation studies, we placed Nod1 in a complex with the Rho-guanine nucleotide exchange factor Gef2. Nod1 and Gef2 mutually recruited each other in nodes and Nod1 also assembles Gef2 in rings. Like gef2Δ, nod1Δ cells showed a mild displacement of their division plane and this phenotype was severely exacerbated when the parallel Polo kinase pathway was also compromised. We conclude that Nod1 specifies the division site by localising Gef2 to the mitotic cell middle. Previous work showed that Gef2 in turn anchors factors that control the spatio-temporal recruitment of the actin nucleation machinery. It is believed that the actin filaments originated from the nodes pull nodes together into a single contractile ring. Surprisingly however, we found that node proteins could form pre-ring helical filaments in a cdc12-112 mutant in which nucleation of the actin ring is impaired. Furthermore, the deletion of either nod1 or gef2 created an un-expected situation where different ring components were recruited sequentially rather than simultaneously. At later stages of cytokinesis, these various rings appeared inter-fitted rather than merged. This study brings a new slant to the understanding of CAR assembly and function.
Cell cycle events are driven by Cyclin dependent kinases (CDKs) and by their counter-acting phosphatases. Activation of the Cdk1:Cyclin B complex during mitotic entry is controlled by the Wee1/Myt1 inhibitory kinases and by Cdc25 activatory phosphatase, which are themselves regulated by Cdk1:Cyclin B within two positive circuits. Impairing these two feedbacks with chemical inhibitors induces a transient entry into M phase referred to as mitotic collapse. The pathology of mitotic collapse reveals that the positive circuits play a significant role in maintaining the M phase state. To better understand the function of these feedback loops during G2/M transition, we propose a simple model for mitotic entry in mammalian cells including spatial control over Greatwall kinase phosphorylation. After parameter calibration, the model is able to recapture the complex and non-intuitive molecular dynamics reported by Potapova et al. (Potapova et al., 2011). Moreover, it predicts the temporal patterns of other mitotic regulators which have not yet been experimentally tested and suggests a general design principle of cell cycle control: latching switches buffer the cellular stresses which accompany cell cycle processes to ensure that the transitions are smooth and robust.
G2/M transition; Mitotic entry; Mitotic collapse; Greatwall kinase; Spatial control of mitosis; Cell cycle
Inactivation of cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) 1 promotes exit from mitosis and establishes G1. Proteolysis of cyclin B is the major known mechanism that turns off Cdk1 during mitotic exit. Here, we show that mitotic exit also activates pathways that catalyze inhibitory phosphorylation of Cdk1, a mechanism previously known to repress Cdk1 only during S and G2 phases of the cell cycle. We present evidence that down-regulation of Cdk1 activates Wee1 and Myt1 kinases and inhibits Cdc25 phosphatase during the M to G1 transition. If cyclin B/Cdk1 complex is present in G1, the inhibitory sites on Cdk1 become phosphorylated. Exit from mitosis induced by chemical Cdk inhibition can be reversed if cyclin B is preserved. However, this reversibility decreases with time after mitotic exit despite the continued presence of the cyclin. We show that this G1 block is due to phosphorylation of Cdk1 on inhibitory residues T14 and Y15. Chemical inhibition of Wee1 and Myt1 or expression of Cdk1 phosphorylation site mutants allows reversal to M phase even from late G1. This late Cdk1 reactivation often results in caspase-dependent cell death. Thus, in G1, the Cdk inhibitory phosphorylation pathway is functional and can lock Cdk1 in the inactive state.