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Curr Biol. 1998 Sep 10;8(18):991-1000.

Control of mitotic events by the Cdc42 GTPase, the Clb2 cyclin and a member of the PAK kinase family.

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Sinsheimer Laboratories, Department of Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz 95064, USA.



Cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases induce and coordinate the events of the cell cycle, although the mechanisms by which they do so remain largely unknown. In budding yeast, a pathway used by the Clb2 cyclin to control bud growth during mitosis provides a good model system in which to understand how cyclin-dependent kinases control cell-cycle events. In this pathway, Clb2 initiates a series of events that lead to the mitosis-specific activation of the Gin4 protein kinase. A protein called Nap1 is required in vivo for the activation of Gin4, and is able to bind to both Gin4 and Clb2. We have used a simple genetic screen to identify additional proteins that function in this pathway.


We have found that the Cdc42 GTPase and a member of the PAK kinase family called Cla4 both function in the pathway used by Clb2 to control bud growth during mitosis. Cdc42 and Cla4 interact genetically with Gin4 and Nap1, and both are required in vivo for the mitosis-specific activation of the Gin4 kinase. Furthermore, Cla4 undergoes a dramatic hyperphosphorylation in response to the combined activity of Nap1, the Clb2-Cdc28 kinase complex, and the GTP-bound form of Cdc42. Evidence is presented which suggests that the hyperphosphorylated form of Cla4 is responsible for relaying the signal to activate Gin4.


Previous studies have suggested that cyclin-dependent kinases control the cell cycle by directly phosphorylating proteins involved in specific events, such as nuclear lamins, microtubule-associated proteins and histones. In contrast, our results demonstrate that the Clb2-Cdc28 cyclin-dependent kinase complex controls specific cell-cycle events through a pathway that involves a GTPase and at least two different kinases. This suggests that cyclin-dependent kinases may control many cell-cycle events through GTPase-linked signaling pathways that resemble the intricate signaling pathways known to control many other cellular events.

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