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Curr Biol. 1997 Sep 1;7(9):709-12.

S-Phase entry upon ectopic expression of G1 cyclin-dependent kinases in the absence of retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation.

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Department of Biochemistry Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


In mammalian cells, the retinoblastoma protein (Rb) is thought to negatively regulate progression through the G1 phase of the cell cycle by its association with the transcription factor E2F [1-3]. Rb-E2F complexes suppress transcription of genes required for DNA synthesis ([4], reviewed in [3,5]), and the prevailing view is that phosphorylation of Rb by complexes of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) and their regulatory cyclin subunits, and the subsequent release of active E2F, is required for S-phase entry [1-3]. This view is based, in part, on the fact that ectopic expression of cyclin-Cdks leads to Rb phosphorylation and that this modification correlates with S-phase entry [6-8]. In Drosophila, however, cyclin E expression can bypass a requirement for E2F, suggesting that cyclins may activate replication independently of the Rb/E2F pathway [9]. We sought to examine whether Rb phosphorylation is a prerequisite for S-phase entry in Rb-deficient SAOS-2 osteosarcoma cells, using a commonly used cotransfection assay [6-8,10]. We find that a G1 arrest in SAOS-2 cells mediated by an Rb mutant lacking all 14 consensus Cdk phosphorylation sites is bypassed by coexpressing G1-specific E-type or D-type cyclin-Cdk complexes, and that injection of purified cyclin-Cdks during G1 accelerates S-phase entry. Our results indicate that Rb phosphorylation is not essential for S-phase entry when G1 cyclin-Cdks are overexpressed, and that other substrates of these kinases can be rate-limiting for the G1 to S-phase transition. These data also reveal that the SAOS-2 cotransfection assay is complicated by Rb-independent effects of the coexpressed Cdks.

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