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Genes Cancer. 2012 Nov;3(11-12):634-48. doi: 10.1177/1947601912473307.

Flipping the switch from g1 to s phase with e3 ubiquitin ligases.

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Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


The cell cycle ensures genome maintenance by coordinating the processes of DNA replication and chromosome segregation. Of particular importance is the irreversible transition from the G1 phase of the cell cycle to S phase. This transition marks the switch from preparing chromosomes for replication ("origin licensing") to active DNA synthesis ("origin firing"). Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis is essential for restricting DNA replication to only once per cell cycle and is the major mechanism regulating the G1 to S phase transition. Although some changes in protein levels are attributable to regulated mRNA abundance, protein degradation elicits very rapid changes in protein abundance and is critical for the sharp and irreversible transition from one cell cycle stage to the next. Not surprisingly, regulation of the G1-to-S phase transition is perturbed in most cancer cells, and deregulation of key molecular events in G1 and S phase drives not only cell proliferation but also genome instability. In this review we focus on the mechanisms by which E3 ubiquitin ligases control the irreversible transition from G1 to S phase in mammalian cells.


Cdk; DNA replication; E3 ubiquitin ligase; cell cycle; cyclin; origin licensing

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