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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35291. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035291. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

Strategic cell-cycle regulatory features that provide mammalian cells with tunable G1 length and reversible G1 arrest.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physique des Lasers, Atomes, et Mol√©cules, CNRS, UMR8523, Universit√© Lille 1 Sciences et Technologies, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.


Transitions between consecutive phases of the eukaryotic cell cycle are driven by the catalytic activity of selected sets of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks). Yet, their occurrence and precise timing is tightly scheduled by a variety of means including Cdk association with inhibitory/adaptor proteins (CKIs). Here we focus on the regulation of G1-phase duration by the end of which cells of multicelled organisms must decide whether to enter S phase or halt, and eventually then, differentiate, senesce or die to obey the homeostatic rules of their host. In mammalian cells, entry in and progression through G1 phase involve sequential phosphorylation and inactivation of the retinoblastoma Rb proteins, first, by cyclin D-Cdk4,6 with the help of CKIs of the Cip/Kip family and, next, by the cyclin E-Cdk2 complexes that are negatively regulated by Cip/Kip proteins. Using a dynamical modeling approach, we show that the very way how the Rb and Cip/Kip regulatory modules interact differentially with cyclin D-Cdk4,6 and cyclin E-Cdk2 provides to mammalian cells a powerful means to achieve an exquisitely-sensitive control of G1-phase duration and fully reversible G1 arrests. Consistently, corruption of either one of these two modules precludes G1 phase elongation and is able to convert G1 arrests from reversible to irreversible. This study unveils fundamental design principles of mammalian G1-phase regulation that are likely to confer to mammalian cells the ability to faithfully control the occurrence and timing of their division process in various conditions.

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