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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Apr;40(7):2823-32. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr1077. Epub 2011 Dec 1.

Identification of a core set of signature cell cycle genes whose relative order of time to peak expression is conserved across species.

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Department of Statistics and Operations Research, Universidad de Valladolid, Prado de Magdalena s.n., 47005 Valladolid, Spain.


A cell division cycle is a well-coordinated process in eukaryotes with cell cycle genes exhibiting a periodic expression over time. There is considerable interest among cell biologists to determine genes that are periodic in multiple organisms and whether such genes are also evolutionarily conserved in their relative order of time to peak expression. Interestingly, periodicity is not well-conserved evolutionarily. A conservative estimate of a number of periodic genes common to fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) and budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) ('core set FB') is 35, while those common to fission yeast and humans (Homo sapiens) ('core set FH') is 24. Using a novel statistical methodology, we discover that the relative order of peak expression is conserved in ∼80% of FB genes and in ∼40% of FH genes. We also discover that the order is evolutionarily conserved in six genes which are potentially the core set of signature cell cycle genes. These include ace2 (a transcription factor) and polo-kinase plo1, which are well-known hubs of early M-phase clusters, cdc18 a key component of pre-replication complexes, mik1 which is critical for the establishment and maintenance of DNA damage check point, and histones hhf1 and hta2.

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