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EMBO J. 1999 Feb 1;18(3):654-63.

Modulation of p27(Kip1) levels by the cyclin encoded by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Biochemistry, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PX.


DNA tumour viruses have evolved a number of mechanisms by which they deregulate normal cellular growth control. We have recently described the properties of a cyclin encoded by human herpesvirus 8 (also known as Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus) which is able to resist the actions of p16(Ink4a), p21(Cip1) and p27(Kip1) cdk inhibitors. Here we investigate the mechanism involved in the subversion of a G1 blockade imposed by overexpression of p27(Kip1). We demonstrate that binding of K cyclin to cdk6 expands the substrate repertoire of this cdk to include a number of substrates phosphorylated by cyclin-cdk2 complexes but not cyclin D1-cdk6. Included amongst these substrates is p27(Kip1) which is phosphorylated on Thr187. Expression of K cyclin in mammalian cells leads to p27(Kip1) downregulation, this being consistent with previous studies indicating that phosphorylation of p27(Kip1) on Thr187 triggers its downregulation. K cyclin expression is not able to prevent a G1 arrest imposed by p27(Kip1) in which Thr187 is mutated to non-phosphorylatable Ala. These results imply that K cyclin is able to bypass a p27(Kip1)-imposed G1 arrest by facilitating phosphorylation and downregulation of p27(Kip1) to enable activation of endogenous cyclin-cdk2 complexes. The extension of the substrate repertoire of cdk6 by K cyclin is likely to contribute to the deregulation of cellular growth by this herpesvirus-encoded cyclin.

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