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Mol Biol Cell. 1992 May;3(5):571-82.

Activation of human cyclin-dependent kinases in vitro.

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Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0444.


We have analyzed the activation of human cyclin-dependent kinases in a cell-free system. Human CDC2, cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), cyclin A, and cyclin B1 were produced in insect cells by infection with recombinant baculoviruses. CDC2 or CDK2 monomers in lysates of infected cells could be activated by the addition of lysates containing cyclin A or B1. CDC2 activation by cyclin B1, as well as CDK2 activation by cyclins A and B1, was accompanied by the formation of high molecular weight complexes. In contrast, CDC2 did not bind effectively to cyclin A. CDC2 activation by cyclin B1 was studied in detail and was found to be accompanied by phosphorylation of CDC2 on Threonine 161. The binding of CDC2 to cyclin B1 also occurred under conditions where CDC2 phosphorylation was prevented, resulting in an inactive complex that could then be phosphorylated and activated on addition of cell extract. Highly purified CDC2 and cyclin B1 also formed inactive complexes that could be activated in an ATP-dependent fashion by unidentified components in crude cell extracts. These data suggest that the CDC2 activation process begins with cyclin binding, after which CDC2 phosphorylation, catalyzed by a separate enzyme, leads to activation.

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