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Cyclin-dependent kinase 1–dependent activation of APC/C ubiquitin ligase

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Science  27 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6289, pp. 1121-1124
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3925

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Phosphorylation cues exit from mitosis

The entry and exit from the cell cycle are controlled by waves of protein phosphorylation and degradation events. Fujimitsu et al. describe the precise mechanism by which the cell cycle machinery controls exit from mitosis. The critical event is activation of a ubiquitin ligase, the anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C). The authors used purified components and the Xenopus egg extract system to show that two subunits of APC/C were directly phosphorylated by cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1). Phosphorylation of one subunit helped recruit CDK1 for further phosphorylation of another subunit. The second subunit interacted with the APC/C activator and target of anticancer therapy known as Cdc20.

Science, this issue p. 1121

Abstract

Error-free genome duplication and segregation are ensured through the timely activation of ubiquitylation enzymes. The anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome (APC/C), a multisubunit E3 ubiquitin ligase, is regulated by phosphorylation. However, the mechanism remains elusive. Using systematic reconstitution and analysis of vertebrate APC/Cs under physiological conditions, we show how cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) activates the APC/C through coordinated phosphorylation between Apc3 and Apc1. Phosphorylation of the loop domains by CDK1 in complex with p9/Cks2 (a CDK regulatory subunit) controlled loading of coactivator Cdc20 onto APC/C. A phosphomimetic mutation introduced into Apc1 allowed Cdc20 to increase APC/C activity in interphase. These results define a previously unrecognized subunit-subunit communication over a distance and the functional consequences of CDK phosphorylation. Cdc20 is a potential therapeutic target, and our findings may facilitate the development of specific inhibitors.

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