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Dev Cell. 2005 Sep;9(3):327-38.

The Cdk1 complex plays a prime role in regulating N-myc phosphorylation and turnover in neural precursors.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Myc family transcription factors are destabilized by phosphorylation of a conserved amino-terminal GSK-3beta motif. In proliferating cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs), Sonic hedgehog signaling induces N-myc expression, and N-myc protein is stabilized by insulin-like growth factor-mediated suppression of GSK-3beta. N-myc phosphorylation-mediated degradation is a prerequisite for CGNP growth arrest and differentiation. We investigated whether N-myc phosphorylation and turnover are thus linked to cell cycle exit in primary mouse CGNP cultures and the developing cerebellum. We report that phosphorylation-induced turnover of endogenous N-myc protein in CGNPs increases during mitosis, due to increased priming phosphorylation of N-myc for GSK-3beta. The priming phosphorylation requires the Cdk1 complex, whose cyclin subunits are indirect Sonic hedgehog targets. These findings provide a mechanism for promoting growth arrest in the final cycle of neural precursor proliferation competency, or for resetting the cell cycle in the G1 phase, by destabilizing N-myc in mitosis.

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