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Mol Cell. 2011 Feb 4;41(3):263-74. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.01.012.

Ultrasensitivity in the Regulation of Cdc25C by Cdk1.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5174, USA.


Cdc25C is a critical component of the interlinked positive and double-negative feedback loops that constitute the bistable mitotic trigger. Computational studies have indicated that the trigger's bistability should be more robust if the individual legs of the loops exhibit ultrasensitive responses. Here, we show that in Xenopus extracts two measures of Cdc25C activation (hyperphosphorylation and Ser 287 dephosphorylation) are highly ultrasensitive functions of the Cdk1 activity; estimated Hill coefficients were 11 to 32. Some of Cdc25C's ultrasensitivity can be reconstituted in vitro with purified components, and the reconstituted ultrasensitivity depends upon multisite phosphorylation. The response functions determined here for Cdc25C and previously for Wee1A allow us to formulate a simple mathematical model of the transition between interphase and mitosis. The model shows how the continuously variable regulators of mitosis work collectively to generate a switch-like, hysteretic response.

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