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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Apr 28;95(9):5021-6.

A distinct cyclin-dependent kinase-activating kinase of Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan.


The activation of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) requires phosphorylation of a threonine residue within the T-loop catalyzed by CDK-activating kinases (CAKs). Thus far no functional CAK homologue has been reported in plants. We screened an Arabidopsis cDNA expression library for complementation of a budding yeast CAK mutant. A cDNA, cak1At, was isolated that suppressed the CAK mutation in budding yeast, and it also complemented a fission yeast CAK mutant. cak1At encodes a protein related to animal CAKs. The CAK similarity was restricted to the conserved kinase domains, leading to classification of Cak1At as a distinct CDK in the phylogenetic tree. Immunoprecipitates with the anti-Cak1At antibody phosphorylated human CDK2 at the threonine residue (T160) within the T-loop and activated its activity to phosphorylate histone H1. Whereas CAKs in animals and fission yeast are involved in regulation of the cell cycle and basal transcription by phosphorylating the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II, Cak1At did not phosphorylate the CTD. An Arabidopsis CTD-kinase isolated separately from Cak1At was shown to interact with the yeast protein p13(suc1), but it had no CDK2-kinase activity. Therefore, the CTD of RNA polymerase II is probably phosphorylated by a Cdc2-related kinase distinct from Cak1At. cak1At is a single-copy gene in Arabidopsis and is highly expressed in proliferating cells of suspension cultures.

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