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J Cell Sci. 2002 Jun 15;115(Pt 12):2461-4.

From Cdc2 to Cdk1: when did the cell cycle kinase join its cyclin partner?

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CRBM, UPR 1086-CNRS, 1919 route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France.


The idea that Cdc2 and cyclins play a key role in the control of the G2/M transition of the cell cycle came largely from genetic analysis of fission yeast and physiological studies of clam, frog, sea urchin and starfish eggs and oocytes. However, it took a long time to realise that Cdc2 and cyclins form a stoichiometric complex and that a cyclin subunit is necessary for the Cdc2 subunit to gain its protein kinase activity. Cyclins were first recognized as proteins whose abundance oscillates during the early cell cycles of marine invertebrate eggs and their connection with MPF (maturation-promoting factor), the entity defined in frog and starfish oocytes whose activity controls entry into M phase, was far from clear at first. Indeed, it was a long time before MPF was shown to be a protein kinase, and direct proof that MPF is a heterodimer comprising one molecule of cyclin and one molecule of Cdc2 was finally obtained only when the Cdc2-associated component of purified starfish MPF was sequenced and found to be cyclin B. When this fundamental discovery was confirmed in vertebrates and mammalian members of the Cdc2 family were also shown to bind cyclins, Cdc2 became Cdk1, the first cyclin-dependent protein kinase.

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