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Mol Biol Cell. 2007 May;18(5):1861-73. Epub 2007 Mar 7.

Specialized roles of the two mitotic cyclins in somatic cells: cyclin A as an activator of M phase-promoting factor.

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Department of Biochemistry, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China.


The role of cyclin B-CDC2 as M phase-promoting factor (MPF) is well established, but the precise functions of cyclin A remain a crucial outstanding issue. Here we show that down-regulation of cyclin A induces a G2 phase arrest through a checkpoint-independent inactivation of cyclin B-CDC2 by inhibitory phosphorylation. The phenotype is rescued by expressing cyclin A resistant to the RNA interference. In contrast, down-regulation of cyclin B disrupts mitosis without inactivating cyclin A-CDK, indicating that cyclin A-CDK acts upstream of cyclin B-CDC2. Even when ectopically expressed, cyclin A cannot replace cyclin B in driving mitosis, indicating the specific role of cyclin B as a component of MPF. Deregulation of WEE1, but not the PLK1-CDC25 axis, can override the arrest caused by cyclin A knockdown, suggesting that cyclin A-CDK may tip the balance of the cyclin B-CDC2 bistable system by initiating the inactivation of WEE1. These observations show that cyclin A cannot form MPF independent of cyclin B and underscore a critical role of cyclin A as a trigger for MPF activation.

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