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Mutat Res. 2003 Nov 27;532(1-2):29-40.

Functions of mammalian Cdc7 kinase in initiation/monitoring of DNA replication and development.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, 3-18-22 Honkomagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8613, Japan.


Cdc7 kinase plays an essential role in firing of replication origins by phosphorylating components of the replication complexes. Cdc7 kinase has also been implicated in S phase checkpoint signaling downstream of the ATR and Chk1 kinases. Inactivation of Cdc7 in yeast results in arrest of cell growth with 1C DNA content after completion of the ongoing DNA replication. In contrast, conditional inactivation of Cdc7 in undifferentiated mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells leads to growth arrest with rapid cessation of DNA synthesis, suggesting requirement of Cdc7 functions for continuation of ongoing DNA synthesis. Furthermore, loss of Cdc7 function induces recombinational repair (nuclear Rad51 foci) and G2/M checkpoint responses (inhibition of Cdc2 kinase). Eventually, p53 becomes highly activated and the cells undergo massive p53-dependent apoptosis. Thus, defective origin activation in mammalian cells can generate DNA replication checkpoint signals. Efficient removal of those cells in which replication has been perturbed, through cell death, may be beneficial to maintain the highest level of genetic integrity in totipotent stem cells. Partial, rather than total, loss of Cdc7 kinase expression results in retarded growth at both cellular and whole body levels, with especially profound impairment of germ cell development.

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