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Mol Cell. 2011 Aug 19;43(4):515-27. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.06.024.

Commitment to a cellular transition precedes genome-wide transcriptional change.

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Department of Applied Physics, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305, USA.


In budding yeast, commitment to cell division corresponds to activating the positive feedback loop of G1 cyclins controlled by the transcription factors SBF and MBF. This pair of transcription factors has over 200 targets, implying that cell-cycle commitment coincides with genome-wide changes in transcription. Here, we find that genes within this regulon have a well-defined distribution of transcriptional activation times. Combinatorial use of SBF and MBF results in a logical OR function for gene expression and partially explains activation timing. Activation of G1 cyclin expression precedes the activation of the bulk of the G1/S regulon, ensuring that commitment to cell division occurs before large-scale changes in transcription. Furthermore, we find similar positive feedback-first regulation in the yeasts S. bayanus and S. cerevisiae, as well as human cells. The widespread use of the feedback-first motif in eukaryotic cell-cycle control, implemented by nonorthologous proteins, suggests its frequent deployment at cellular transitions.

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