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Global Analysis of Cdk1 Substrate Phosphorylation Sites Provides Insights into Evolution

Science  25 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5948, pp. 1682-1686
DOI: 10.1126/science.1172867

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Cataloging Kinase Targets

Protein phosphorylation is a central mechanism in the control of many biological processes (see the Perspective by Collins). It remains a challenge to determine the complete range of substrates and phosphorylation sites altered by a kinase like cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1), which controls cell division in yeast. Holt et al. (p. 1682) engineered a strain of yeast to express a modified Cdk1 molecule that could be inhibited by a specific small-molecule inhibitor. The range of Cdk1-dependent phosphorylation was assessed by quantitative mass spectrometry, which revealed many previously uncharacterized substrates for Cdk1. In addition to phosphorylation on serine and threonine residues, which appears to be evolutionarily ancient, tyrosine phosphorylation occurs primarily in multicellular organisms. Tan et al. (p. 1686, published online 9 July) compared the overall presence of tyrosine residues in human proteins (which are frequently phosphorylated) and in yeast proteins (which are not). Loss of tyrosine residues has occurred during evolution, presumably to reduce adventitious tyrosine phosphorylation.

Abstract

To explore the mechanisms and evolution of cell-cycle control, we analyzed the position and conservation of large numbers of phosphorylation sites for the cyclin-dependent kinase Cdk1 in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We combined specific chemical inhibition of Cdk1 with quantitative mass spectrometry to identify the positions of 547 phosphorylation sites on 308 Cdk1 substrates in vivo. Comparisons of these substrates with orthologs throughout the ascomycete lineage revealed that the position of most phosphorylation sites is not conserved in evolution; instead, clusters of sites shift position in rapidly evolving disordered regions. We propose that the regulation of protein function by phosphorylation often depends on simple nonspecific mechanisms that disrupt or enhance protein-protein interactions. The gain or loss of phosphorylation sites in rapidly evolving regions could facilitate the evolution of kinase-signaling circuits.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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