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1.  Identification of She3 as an SCFGrr1 Substrate in Budding Yeast 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48020.
The highly orchestrated progression of the cell cycle depends on the degradation of many regulatory proteins at different cell cycle stages. One of the key cell cycle ubiquitin ligases is the Skp1-cullin-F-box (SCF) complex. Acting in concert with the substrate-binding F-box protein Grr1, SCFGrr1 promotes the degradation of cell cycle regulators as well as various metabolic enzymes. Using a yeast two-hybrid assay with a Grr1 derivative as the bait, we identified She3, which is an adaptor protein in the asymmetric mRNA transport system, as a novel Grr1 substrate. We generated stabilized She3 mutants, which no longer bound to Grr1, and found that the degradation of She3 is not required for regulating asymmetric mRNA transport. However, She3 stabilization leads to slower growth compared to wild-type cells in a co-culture assay, demonstrating that the degradation of She3 by Grr1 is required for optimal cell growth.
PMCID: PMC3483296  PMID: 23144720
2.  Identification of Anaphase Promoting Complex Substrates in S. cerevisiae 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45895.
The Anaphase-Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C) is an essential ubiquitin ligase that targets numerous proteins for proteasome-mediated degradation in mitosis and G1. To gain further insight into cellular pathways controlled by APC/CCdh1, we developed two complementary approaches to identify additional APC/CCdh1 substrates in budding yeast. First, we analyzed the stabilities of proteins that were expressed at the same time in the cell cycle as known APC/C substrates. Second, we screened for proteins capable of interacting with the Cdh1 substrate-binding protein in a yeast two-hybrid system. Here we characterize five potential APC/C substrates identified using these approaches: the transcription factors Tos4 and Pdr3; the mRNA processing factor Fir1; the spindle checkpoint protein kinase Mps1; and a protein of unknown function, Ybr138C. Analysis of the degradation motifs within these proteins revealed that the carboxyl-terminal KEN box and D-boxes of Tos4 are important for its interaction with Cdh1, whereas the N-terminal domain of Ybr138C is required for its instability. Functionally, we found that a stabilized form of Mps1 delayed cell division upon mild spindle disruption, and that elevated levels of Ybr138C reduced cell fitness. Interestingly, both Tos4 and Pdr3 have been implicated in the DNA damage response, whereas Mps1 regulates the spindle assembly checkpoint. Thus, the APC/CCdh1-mediated degradation of these proteins may help to coordinate re-entry into the cell cycle following environmental stresses.
PMCID: PMC3458821  PMID: 23049888
3.  Anaphase promoting complex–dependent degradation of transcriptional repressors Nrm1 and Yhp1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(13):2175-2184.
The anaphase-promoting complex is a ubiquitin ligase that promotes the degradation of numerous cell cycle regulators during mitosis and in G1. This report identifies two transcriptional repressors—Nrm1 and Yhp1—as novel APC substrates in budding yeast. In the absence of their degradation, target genes are misexpressed and cell fitness is reduced.
The anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) is an essential ubiquitin ligase that targets cell cycle proteins for proteasome-mediated degradation in mitosis and G1. The APC regulates a number of cell cycle processes, including spindle assembly, mitotic exit, and cytokinesis, but the full range of its functions is still unknown. To better understand cellular pathways controlled by the APC, we performed a proteomic screen to identify additional APC substrates. We analyzed cell cycle–regulated proteins whose expression peaked during the period when other APC substrates were expressed. Subsequent analysis identified several proteins, including the transcriptional repressors Nrm1 and Yhp1, as authentic APC substrates. We found that APCCdh1 targeted Nrm1 and Yhp1 for degradation in early G1 through Destruction-box motifs and that the degradation of these repressors coincided with transcriptional activation of MBF and Mcm1 target genes, respectively. In addition, Nrm1 was stabilized by phosphorylation, most likely by the budding yeast cyclin–dependent protein kinase, Cdc28. We found that expression of stabilized forms of Nrm1 and Yhp1 resulted in reduced cell fitness, due at least in part to incomplete activation of G1-specific genes. Therefore, in addition to its known functions, APC-mediated targeting of Nrm1 and Yhp1 coordinates transcription of multiple genes in G1 with other cell cycle events.
PMCID: PMC3128521  PMID: 21562221
4.  Pseudosubstrate Inhibition of the Anaphase-Promoting Complex by Acm1: Regulation by Proteolysis and Cdc28 Phosphorylation▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(15):4653-4664.
The ubiquitin ligase activity of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC)/cyclosome needs to be tightly regulated for proper cell cycle progression. Substrates are recruited to the APC by the Cdc20 and Cdh1 accessory proteins. The Cdh1-APC interaction is inhibited through phosphorylation of Cdh1 by Cdc28, the major cyclin-dependent protein kinase in budding yeast. More recently, Acm1 was reported to be a Cdh1-binding and -inhibitory protein in budding yeast. We found that although Acm1 is an unstable protein and contains the KEN-box and D-box motifs typically found in APC substrates, Acm1 itself is not an APC substrate. Rather, it uses these motifs to compete with substrates for Cdh1 binding, thereby inhibiting their recruitment to the APC. Mutation of these motifs prevented Acm1-Cdh1 binding in vivo and rendered Acm1 inactive both in vitro and in vivo. Acm1 stability was critically dependent on phosphorylation by Cdc28, as Acm1 was destabilized following inhibition of Cdc28, mutation of consensus Cdc28 phosphorylation sites in Acm1, or deletion of the Bmh1 and Bmh2 phosphoprotein-binding proteins. Thus, Cdc28 serves dual roles in inhibiting Cdh1-dependent APC activity during the cell cycle: stabilization of the Cdh1 inhibitor Acm1 and direct phosphorylation of Cdh1 to prevent its association with the APC.
PMCID: PMC2493364  PMID: 18519589
5.  Speedy/ringo C regulates S and G2 phase progression in human cells 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2008;7(19):3037-3047.
Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) control cell cycle transitions and progression. In addition to their activation via binding to cyclins, CDKs can be activated via binding to an unrelated class of cell cycle regulators termed Speedy/Ringo (S/R) proteins. Although mammals contain at least five distinct Speedy/Ringo homologues, the specific functions of members of this growing family of CDK activators remain largely unknown. We investigated the cell cycle roles of human Speedy/Ringo C in HEK293 cells. Down-regulation of Speedy/Ringo C by RNA interference delayed S and G2 progression whereas ectopic expression had the opposite effect, reducing S and G2/M populations. Double thymidine arrest and release experiments showed that overexpression of Speedy/Ringo C promoted late S phase progression. Using a novel three-color FACS protocol to determine the length of G2phase, we found that the suppression of Speedy/Ringo C by RNAi prolonged G2 phase by ~30 min whereas ectopic expression of Speedy/Ringo C shortened G2 phase by ~25 min. In addition, overexpression of Speedy/Ringo C disrupted the G2 DNA damage checkpoint, increased cell death and caused a cell cycle delay at the G1-to-S transition. These observations indicate that CDK-Speedy/Ringo C complexes positively regulate cell cycle progression during the late S and G2 phases of the cell cycle.
PMCID: PMC2592538  PMID: 18802405
cyclin-dependent kinase; speedy/ringo C; cell cycle; cyclin; S-G2 phase
6.  Identification of Yeast IQGAP (Iqg1p) as an Anaphase-Promoting-Complex Substrate and Its Role in Actomyosin-Ring-Independent Cytokinesis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(12):5139-5153.
In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a ring of myosin II forms in a septin-dependent manner at the budding site in late G1. This ring remains at the bud neck until the onset of cytokinesis, when actin is recruited to it. The actomyosin ring then contracts, septum formation occurs concurrently, and cytokinesis is soon completed. Deletion of MYO1 (the only myosin II gene) is lethal on rich medium in the W303 strain background and causes slow-growth and delayed-cell-separation phenotypes in the S288C strain background. These phenotypes can be suppressed by deletions of genes encoding nonessential components of the anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C). This suppression does not seem to result simply from a delay in mitotic exit, because overexpression of a nondegradable mitotic cyclin does not suppress the same phenotypes. Overexpression of either IQG1 or CYK3 also suppresses the myo1Δ phenotypes, and Iqg1p (an IQGAP protein) is increased in abundance and abnormally persistent after cytokinesis in APC/C mutants. In vitro assays showed that Iqg1p is ubiquitinated directly by APC/CCdh1 via a novel recognition sequence. A nondegradable Iqg1p (lacking this recognition sequence) can suppress the myo1Δ phenotypes even when expressed at relatively low levels. Together, the data suggest that compromise of APC/C function allows the accumulation of Iqg1p, which then promotes actomyosin-ring-independent cytokinesis at least in part by activation of Cyk3p.
PMCID: PMC2096582  PMID: 17942599
7.  Biochemical characterization of Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 
BMC Biochemistry  2005;6:19.
Normal cell cycle progression requires the precise activation and inactivation of cyclin-dependent protein kinases (CDKs), which consist of a CDK and a cyclin subunit. A novel cell cycle regulator called Speedy/Ringo shows no sequence similarity to cyclins, yet can directly bind to and activate CDKs. Speedy/Ringo proteins, which bind to and activate Cdc2 and Cdk2 in vitro, are required for the G2 to M transition during Xenopus oocyte maturation and for normal S-phase entry in cultured human cells.
We have characterized the substrate specificity and enzymatic activity of human Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 in order to gain insights into the possible functions of this complex. In contrast to Cdk2-cyclin A, which has a well-defined consensus target site ((S/T)PX(K/R)) that strongly favors substrates containing a lysine at the +3 position of substrates, Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 displayed a broad substrate specificity at this position. Consequently, Cdk2-Ringo/Speedy A2 phosphorylated optimal Cdk2 substrates such as histone H1 and a KSPRK peptide poorly, only ~0.08% as well as Cdk2-cyclin A, but non-canonical Cdk2 substrates such as a KSPRY peptide relatively well, with an efficiency of ~80% compared to Cdk2-cyclin A. Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 also phosphorylated authentic Cdk2 substrates, such as Cdc25 proteins, which contain non-canonical CDK phosphorylation sites, nearly as well as Cdk2-cyclin A. Phosphopeptide mapping indicated that Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 and Cdk2-cyclin A phosphorylate distinct subsets of sites on Cdc25 proteins. Thus, the low activity that Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 displays when assayed on conventional Cdk2 substrates may significantly underestimate the potential physiological importance of Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 in phosphorylating key subsets of Cdk2 substrates. Unlike Cdk2-cyclin A, whose activity depends strongly on activating phosphorylation of Cdk2 on Thr-160, neither the overall catalytic activity nor the substrate recognition by Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 was significantly affected by this phosphorylation. Furthermore, Cdk2-Speedy/Ringo A2 was not a suitable substrate for metazoan CAK (which phosphorylates Cdk2 at Thr-160), supporting the notion that Speedy/Ringo A2 activates Cdk2 in a CAK-independent manner.
There are major differences in substrate preferences between CDK-Speedy/Ringo A2 and Cdk2-cyclin complexes. These differences may accommodate the CAK-independent activation of Cdk2 by Speedy/Ringo A2 and they raise the possibility that CDK-Speedy/Ringo A2 complexes could phosphorylate and regulate a subset of non-canonical CDK substrates, such as Cdc25 protein phosphatases, to control cell cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC1262692  PMID: 16191191
8.  Phosphorylation by Cak1 Regulates the C-Terminal Domain Kinase Ctk1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(10):3906-3913.
Ctk1 is a Saccharomyces cerevisiae cyclin-dependent protein kinase (CDK) that assembles with Ctk2 and Ctk3 to form an active protein kinase complex, CTDK-I. CTDK-I phosphorylates Ser2 within the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain, an activity that is required for efficient transcriptional elongation and 3′ RNA processing. Ctk1 contains a conserved T loop, which undergoes activating phosphorylation in other CDKs. We show that Ctk1 is phosphorylated on Thr-338 within the T loop. Mutation of this residue abolished Ctk1 kinase activity in vitro and resulted in a cold-sensitive phenotype. As with other yeast CDKs undergoing T-loop phosphorylation, Ctk1 phosphorylation on Thr-338 was dependent on the Cak1 protein kinase. Ctk1 isolated from cak1Δ cells was unphosphorylated and exhibited low protein kinase activity. Moreover, Cak1 directly phosphorylated Ctk1 in vitro. Unlike wild-type cells, cells expressing Ctk1T338A delayed growth at early stationary phase, did not show the increase in Ser2 phosphorylation that normally accompanies the transition from rapid growth to stationary phase, and had compromised transcriptional activation of two stationary-phase genes, CTT1 and SPI1. Therefore, Ctk1 phosphorylation on Thr-338 is carried out by Cak1 and is required for normal gene transcription during the transition into stationary phase.
PMCID: PMC1087728  PMID: 15870265
9.  Budding Yeast CTDK-I Is Required for DNA Damage-Induced Transcription 
Eukaryotic Cell  2003;2(2):274-283.
CTDK-I phosphorylates the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the large subunit of yeast RNA polymerase II in a reaction that stimulates transcription elongation. Mutations in CTDK-I subunits—Ctk1p, Ctk2p, and Ctk3p—confer conditional phenotypes. In this study, we examined the role of CTDK-I in the DNA damage response. We found that mutation of individual CTDK-I subunits rendered yeast sensitive to hydroxyurea (HU) and UV irradiation. Treatment with DNA-damaging agents increased phosphorylation of Ser2 within the CTD repeats in wild-type but not in ctk1Δ mutant cells. Using microarray hybridization, we identified genes whose transcription following DNA damage is Ctk1p dependent, including several DNA repair and stress response genes. Following HU treatment, the level of Ser2-phosphorylated RNA polymerase II increased both globally and on the CTDK-I-regulated genes. The pleiotropic phenotypes of ctk mutants suggest that CTDK-I activity is essential during large-scale transcriptional repatterning under stress and unfavorable growth conditions.
PMCID: PMC154854  PMID: 12684377
10.  Hsl1p, a Swe1p Inhibitor, Is Degraded via the Anaphase-Promoting Complex 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(13):4614-4625.
Ubiquitination and subsequent degradation of critical cell cycle regulators is a key mechanism exploited by the cell to ensure an irreversible progression of cell cycle events. The anaphase-promoting complex (APC) is a ubiquitin ligase that targets proteins for degradation by the 26S proteasome. Here we identify the Hsl1p protein kinase as an APC substrate that interacts with Cdc20p and Cdh1p, proteins that mediate APC ubiquitination of protein substrates. Hsl1p is absent in G1, accumulates as cells begin to bud, and disappears in late mitosis. Hsl1p is stabilized by mutations in CDH1 and CDC23, both of which result in compromised APC activity. Unlike Hsl1p, Gin4p and Kcc4p, protein kinases that have sequence homology to Hsl1p, were stable in G1-arrested cells containing active APC. Mutation of a destruction box motif within Hsl1p (Hsl1pdb-mut) stabilized Hsl1p. Interestingly, this mutation also disrupted the Hsl1p-Cdc20p interaction and reduced the association between Hsl1p and Cdh1p in coimmunoprecipitation studies. These findings suggest that the destruction box motif is required for Cdc20p and, to a lesser extent, for Cdh1p to target Hsl1p to the APC for ubiquitination. Hsl1p has been previously shown to inhibit Swe1p, a protein kinase that negatively regulates the cyclin-dependent kinase Cdc28p, by promoting Swe1p degradation via SCFMet30 in a bud morphogenesis checkpoint. Results of the present work indicate that Hsl1p is degraded in an APC-dependent manner and suggest a link between the SCF (Skp1-cullin-F box) and APC-proteolytic systems that may help to coordinate the proper progression of cell cycle events.
PMCID: PMC85864  PMID: 10848588
11.  Activating Phosphorylation of the Kin28p Subunit of Yeast TFIIH by Cak1p† 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(7):4774-4787.
Cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)-activating kinases (CAKs) carry out essential activating phosphorylations of CDKs such as Cdc2 and Cdk2. The catalytic subunit of mammalian CAK, MO15/Cdk7, also functions as a subunit of the general transcription factor TFIIH. However, these functions are split in budding yeast, where Kin28p functions as the kinase subunit of TFIIH and Cak1p functions as a CAK. We show that Kin28p, which is itself a CDK, also contains a site of activating phosphorylation on Thr-162. The kinase activity of a T162A mutant of Kin28p is reduced by ∼75 to 80% compared to that of wild-type Kin28p. Moreover, cells containing kin28T162A and a conditional allele of TFB3 (the ortholog of the mammalian MAT1 protein, an assembly factor for MO15 and cyclin H) are severely compromised and display a significant further reduction in Kin28p activity. This finding provides in vivo support for the previous biochemical observation that MO15-cyclin H complexes can be activated either by activating phosphorylation of MO15 or by binding to MAT1. Finally, we show that Kin28p is no longer phosphorylated on Thr-162 following inactivation of Cak1p in vivo, that Cak1p can phosphorylate Kin28p on Thr-162 in vitro, and that this phosphorylation stimulates the CTD kinase activity of Kin28p. Thus, Kin28p joins Cdc28p, the major cell cycle Cdk in budding yeast, as a physiological Cak1p substrate. These findings indicate that although MO15 and Cak1p constitute different forms of CAK, both control the cell cycle and the phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II by TFIIH.
PMCID: PMC84276  PMID: 10373527
12.  Cyclin-Stimulated Binding of Cks Proteins to Cyclin-Dependent Kinases 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(7):3659-3667.
Although Cks proteins were the first identified binding partners of cyclin-dependent protein kinases (cdks), their cell cycle functions have remained unclear. To help elucidate the function of Cks proteins, we examined whether their binding to p34cdc2 (the mitotic cdk) varies during the cell cycle in Xenopus egg extracts. We observed that binding of human CksHs2 to p34cdc2 was stimulated by cyclin B. This stimulation was dependent on the activating phosphorylation of p34cdc2 on Thr-161, which follows cyclin binding and is mediated by the cdk-activating kinase. Neither the inhibitory phosphorylations of p34cdc2 nor the catalytic activity of p34cdc2 was required for this stimulation. Stimulated binding of CksHs2 to another cdk, p33cdk2, required both cyclin A and activating phosphorylation. Our findings support recent models that suggest that Cks proteins target active forms of p34cdc2 to substrates.
PMCID: PMC108948  PMID: 9632748
13.  Human and Yeast Cdk-activating Kinases (CAKs) Display Distinct Substrate Specificities 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1998;9(9):2545-2560.
Cell cycle progression is controlled by the sequential functions of cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks). Cdk activation requires phosphorylation of a key residue (on sites equivalent to Thr-160 in human cdk2) carried out by the cdk-activating kinase (CAK). Human CAK has been identified as a p40MO15/cyclin H/MAT1 complex that also functions as part of transcription factor IIH (TFIIH) where it phosphorylates multiple transcriptional components including the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II. In contrast, CAK from budding yeast consists of a single polypeptide (Cak1p), is not a component of TFIIH, and lacks CTD kinase activity. Here we report that Cak1p and p40MO15 have strikingly different substrate specificities. Cak1p preferentially phosphorylated monomeric cdks, whereas p40MO15 preferentially phosphorylated cdk/cyclin complexes. Furthermore, p40MO15 only phosphorylated cdk6 bound to cyclin D3, whereas Cak1p recognized monomeric cdk6 and cdk6 bound to cyclin D1, D2, or D3. We also found that cdk inhibitors, including p21CIP1, p27KIP1, p57KIP2, p16INK4a, and p18INK4c, could block phosphorylation by p40MO15 but not phosphorylation by Cak1p. Our results demonstrate that although both Cak1p and p40MO15 activate cdks by phosphorylating the same residue, the structural mechanisms underlying the enzyme-substrate recognition differ greatly. Structural and physiological implications of these findings will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC25525  PMID: 9725911
14.  CAK-independent Activation of CDK6 by a Viral Cyclin 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(12):3987-3999.
In normal cells, activation of cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks) requires binding to a cyclin and phosphorylation by the cdk-activating kinase (CAK). The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus encodes a protein with similarity to D-type cyclins. This KSHV-cyclin activates CDK6, alters its substrate specificity, and renders CDK6 insensitive to inhibition by the cdk inhibitor p16INK4a. Here we investigate the regulation of the CDK6/KSHV-cyclin kinase with the use of purified proteins and a cell-based assay. We find that KSHV-cyclin can activate CDK6 independent of phosphorylation by CAK in vitro. In addition, CAK phosphorylation decreased the p16INK4a sensitivity of CDK6/KSHV-cyclin complexes. In cells, expression of CDK6 or to a lesser degree of a nonphosphorylatable CDK6T177A together with KSHV-cyclin induced apoptosis, indicating that CDK6 activation by KSHV-cyclin can proceed in the absence of phosphorylation by CAK in vivo. Coexpression of p16 partially protected cells from cell death. p16 and KSHV-cyclin can form a ternary complex with CDK6 that can be detected by binding assays as well as by conformational changes in CDK6. The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus has adopted a clever strategy to render cell cycle progression independent of mitogenic signals, cdk inhibition, or phosphorylation by CAK.
PMCID: PMC60770  PMID: 11739795
15.  Activating Phosphorylation of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Cyclin-dependent Kinase, Cdc28p, Precedes Cyclin Binding 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2000;11(5):1597-1609.
Eukaryotic cell cycle progression is controlled by a family of protein kinases known as cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks). Two steps are essential for Cdk activation: binding of a cyclin and phosphorylation on a conserved threonine residue by the Cdk-activating kinase (CAK). We have studied the interplay between these regulatory mechanisms during the activation of the major Saccharomyces cerevisiae Cdk, Cdc28p. We found that the majority of Cdc28p was phosphorylated on its activating threonine (Thr-169) throughout the cell cycle. The extent of Thr-169 phosphorylation was similar for monomeric Cdc28p and Cdc28p bound to cyclin. By varying the order of the addition of cyclin and Cak1p, we determined that Cdc28p was activated most efficiently when it was phosphorylated before cyclin binding. Furthermore, we found that a Cdc28pT169A mutant, which cannot be phosphorylated, bound cyclin less well than wild-type Cdc28p in vivo. These results suggest that unphosphorylated Cdc28p may be unable to bind tightly to cyclin. We propose that Cdc28p is normally phosphorylated by Cak1p before it binds cyclin. This activation pathway contrasts with that in higher eukaryotes, in which cyclin binding appears to precede activating phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC14870  PMID: 10793138

Results 1-15 (15)