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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jan 31;278(5):3403-9. Epub 2002 Nov 15.

Cell cycle-dependent regulation of pyrimidine biosynthesis.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201,USA.


De novo pyrimidine biosynthesis is activated in proliferating cells in response to an increased demand for nucleotides needed for DNA synthesis. The pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway in baby hamster kidney cells, synchronized by serum deprivation, was found to be up-regulated 1.9-fold during S phase and subsequently down-regulated as the cells progressed through the cycle. The nucleotide pools were depleted by serum starvation and were not replenished during the first round of cell division, suggesting that the rate of utilization of the newly synthesized nucleotides closely matched their rate of formation. The activation and subsequent down-regulation of the pathway can be attributed to altered allosteric regulation of the carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase activity of CAD (carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase-aspartate carbamoyltransferase-dihydroorotase), a multifunctional protein that initiates mammalian pyrimidine biosynthesis. As the culture approached S-phase there was an increased sensitivity to the allosteric activator, 5-phosphoribosyl-1-pyrophosphate, and a loss of UTP inhibition, changes that were reversed when cells emerged from S phase. The allosteric regulation of CAD is known to be modulated by MAP kinase (MAPK) and protein kinase A (PKA)-mediated phosphorylations as well as by autophosphorylation. CAD was found to be fully autophosphorylated in the synchronized cells, but the level remained invariant throughout the cycle. Although the MAPK activity increased early in G(1), the phosphorylation of the CAD MAPK site was delayed until just before the onset of S phase, probably due to antagonistic phosphorylation by PKA that persisted until late G(1). Once activated, pyrimidine biosynthesis remained elevated until rephosphorylation of CAD by PKA and dephosphorylation of the CAD MAPK site late in S phase. Thus, the cell cycle-dependent regulation of pyrimidine biosynthesis results from the sequential phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of CAD under the control of two important signaling cascades.

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