JNKs function as CDK4-activating kinases by phosphorylating CDK4 and p21.
ABSTRACT: Cyclin D-CDK4/6 are the first cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) complexes to be activated by mitogenic/oncogenic pathways. They have a central role in the cell multiplication decision and in its deregulation in cancer cells. We identified T172 phosphorylation of CDK4 rather than cyclin D accumulation as the distinctly regulated step determining CDK4 activation. This finding challenges the view that the only identified metazoan CDK-activating kinase, cyclin H-CDK7-Mat1 (CAK), which is constitutively active, is responsible for the activating phosphorylation of all cell cycle CDKs. We previously showed that T172 phosphorylation of CDK4 is conditioned by an adjacent proline (P173), which is not present in CDK6 and CDK1/2. Although CDK7 activity was recently shown to be required for CDK4 activation, we proposed that proline-directed kinases might specifically initiate the activation of CDK4. Here, we report that JNKs, but not ERK1/2 or CAK, can be direct CDK4-activating kinases for cyclin D-CDK4 complexes that are inactivated by p21-mediated stabilization. JNKs and ERK1/2 also phosphorylated p21 at S130 and T57, which might facilitate CDK7-dependent activation of p21-bound CDK4, however, mutation of these sites did not impair the phosphorylation of CDK4 by JNKs. In two selected tumor cells, two different JNK inhibitors inhibited the phosphorylation and activation of cyclin D1-CDK4-p21 but not the activation of cyclin D3-CDK4 that is mainly associated to p27. Specific inhibition by chemical genetics in MEFs confirmed the involvement of JNK2 in cyclin D1-CDK4 activation. Therefore, JNKs could be activating kinases for cyclin D1-CDK4 bound to p21, by independently phosphorylating both CDK4 and p21.
Project description:Cell cycle progression, including genome duplication, is orchestrated by cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). CDK activation depends on phosphorylation of their T-loop by a CDK-activating kinase (CAK). In animals, the only known CAK for CDK2 and CDK1 is cyclin H-CDK7, which is constitutively active. Therefore, the critical activation step is dephosphorylation of inhibitory sites by Cdc25 phosphatases rather than unrestricted T-loop phosphorylation. Homologous CDK4 and CDK6 bound to cyclins D are master integrators of mitogenic/oncogenic signaling cascades by initiating the inactivation of the central oncosuppressor pRb and cell cycle commitment at the restriction point. Unlike the situation in CDK1 and CDK2 cyclin complexes, and in contrast to the weak but constitutive T177 phosphorylation of CDK6, we have identified the T-loop phosphorylation at T172 as the highly regulated step determining CDK4 activity. Whether both CDK4 and CDK6 phosphorylations are catalyzed by CDK7 remains unclear. To answer this question, we took a chemical-genetics approach by using analogue-sensitive CDK7(as/as) mutant HCT116 cells, in which CDK7 can be specifically inhibited by bulky adenine analogs. Intriguingly, CDK7 inhibition prevented activating phosphorylations of CDK4/6, but for CDK4 this was at least partly dependent on its binding to p21 (cip1) . In response to CDK7 inhibition, p21-binding to CDK4 increased concomitantly with disappearance of the most abundant phosphorylation of p21, which we localized at S130 and found to be catalyzed by both CDK4 and CDK2. The S130A mutation of p21 prevented the activating CDK4 phosphorylation, and inhibition of CDK4/6 and CDK2 impaired phosphorylations of both p21 and p21-bound CDK4. Therefore, specific CDK7 inhibition revealed the following: a crucial but partly indirect CDK7 involvement in phosphorylation/activation of CDK4 and CDK6; existence of CDK4-activating kinase(s) other than CDK7; and novel CDK7-dependent positive feedbacks mediated by p21 phosphorylation by CDK4 and CDK2 to sustain CDK4 activation, pRb inactivation, and restriction point passage.
Project description:Eukaryotic cell division is controlled by cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), which require phosphorylation by a CDK-activating kinase (CAK) for full activity. Chemical genetics uncovered requirements for the metazoan CAK Cdk7 in determining cyclin specificity and activation order of Cdk2 and Cdk1 during S and G2 phases. It was unknown if Cdk7 also activates Cdk4 and Cdk6 to promote passage of the restriction (R) point, when continued cell-cycle progression becomes mitogen independent, or if CDK-activating phosphorylation regulates G1 progression. Here we show that Cdk7 is a Cdk4- and Cdk6-activating kinase in human cells, required to maintain activity, not just to establish the active state, as is the case for Cdk1 and Cdk2. Activating phosphorylation of Cdk7 rises concurrently with that of Cdk4 as cells exit quiescence and accelerates Cdk4 activation in vitro. Therefore, mitogen signaling drives a CDK-activation cascade during G1 progression, and CAK might be rate-limiting for R point passage.
Project description:The kinase responsible for Thr161-Thr160 phosphorylation and activation of cdc2/cdk2 (CAK:cdk-activating kinase) has been shown previously to comprise at least two subunits, cdk7 and cyclin H. An additional protein co-purified with CAK in starfish oocytes, but its sequencing did not reveal any similarity with any known protein. In the present work, a cDNA encoding this protein is cloned and sequenced in both starfish and Xenopus oocytes. It is shown to encode a new member of the RING finger family of proteins with a characteristic C3HC4 motif located in the N-terminal domain. We demonstrate that the RING finger protein (MAT1: 'menage à trois') is a new subunit of CAK in both vertebrate and invertebrates. However, CAK may also exist in oocytes as heterodimeric complexes between cyclin H and cdk7 only. Stable heterotrimeric CAK complexes were generated in reticulocyte lysates programmed with mRNAs encoding Xenopus cdk7, cyclin H and MAT1. In contrast, no heterodimeric cyclin H-cdk7 complex could be immunoprecipitated from reticulocyte lysates programmed with cdk7 and cyclin H mRNAs only. Stabilization of CAK complexes by MAT1 does not involve phosphorylation of Thr176, as the Thr176-->Ala mutant of Xenopus cdk7 could engage as efficiently as wild-type cdk7 in ternary complexes. Even though starfish MAT1 is almost identical to Xenopus MAT1 in the RING finger domain, the starfish subunit could not replace the Xenopus subunit and stabilize cyclin H-cdk7 in reticulocyte lysate, suggesting that the MAT1 subunit does not (or not only) interact with cyclin H-cdk7 through the RING finger domain.
Project description:Cyclin-dependent kinase 7 (CDK7), Cyclin H, and the RING-finger protein MAT1 form the heterotrimeric CDK-activating kinase (CAK) complex which is vital for transcription and cell-cycle control. When associated with the general transcription factor II H (TFIIH) it activates RNA polymerase II by hyperphosphorylation of its C-terminal domain (CTD). In the absence of TFIIH the trimeric complex phosphorylates the T-loop of CDKs that control cell-cycle progression. CAK holds a special position among the CDK branch due to this dual activity and the dependence on two proteins for activation. We solved the structure of the CAK complex from the model organism <i>Chaetomium thermophilum</i> at 2.6-Å resolution. Our structure reveals an intricate network of interactions between CDK7 and its two binding partners MAT1 and Cyclin H, providing a structural basis for the mechanism of CDK7 activation and CAK activity regulation. In vitro activity measurements and functional mutagenesis show that CDK7 activation can occur independent of T-loop phosphorylation and is thus exclusively MAT1-dependent by positioning the CDK7 T-loop in its active conformation.
Project description:Cell cycle phase transition is regulated in part by the trimeric enzyme, cyclin-dependent kinase activating kinase (CAK) which phosphorylates and activates cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks). Protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors prevent cell cycle phase transition, suggesting a fundamental role for PKCs in cell cycle regulation. We report that in glioma cells, CAK (cdk7) is constitutively associated with PKC-iota. In vitro phosphorylation, co-immunoprecipitation, and analysis of phosphorylated proteins by autoradiography indicate that CAK (cdk7) is a substrate for PKC-iota and PKC-betaII hyperphosphorylation. These results establish a role for PKC-iota and PKC-betaII in the activation of CAK during the glioma cell cycle.
Project description:Normal progression through the cell cycle requires the sequential action of cyclin-dependent kinases CDK1, CDK2, CDK4, and CDK6. Direct or indirect deregulation of CDK activity is a feature of almost all cancers and has led to the development of CDK inhibitors as anticancer agents. The CDK-activating kinase (CAK) plays a critical role in regulating cell cycle by mediating the activating phosphorylation of CDK1, CDK2, CDK4, and CDK6. As such, CDK7, which also regulates transcription as part of the TFIIH basal transcription factor, is an attractive target for the development of anticancer drugs. Computer modeling of the CDK7 structure was used to design potential potent CDK7 inhibitors. Here, we show that a pyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidine-derived compound, BS-181, inhibited CAK activity with an IC(50) of 21 nmol/L. Testing of other CDKs as well as another 69 kinases showed that BS-181 only inhibited CDK2 at concentrations lower than 1 micromol/L, with CDK2 being inhibited 35-fold less potently (IC(50) 880 nmol/L) than CDK7. In MCF-7 cells, BS-181 inhibited the phosphorylation of CDK7 substrates, promoted cell cycle arrest and apoptosis to inhibit the growth of cancer cell lines, and showed antitumor effects in vivo. The drug was stable in vivo with a plasma elimination half-life in mice of 405 minutes after i.p. administration of 10 mg/kg. The same dose of drug inhibited the growth of MCF-7 human xenografts in nude mice. BS-181 therefore provides the first example of a potent and selective CDK7 inhibitor with potential as an anticancer agent.
Project description:Cell division is controlled by cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). In metazoans, S phase onset coincides with activation of Cdk2, whereas Cdk1 triggers mitosis. Both Cdk1 and -2 require cyclin binding and T loop phosphorylation for full activity. The only known CDK-activating kinase (CAK) in metazoans is Cdk7, which is also part of the transcription machinery. To test the requirements for Cdk7 in vivo, we replaced wild-type Cdk7 with a version sensitive to bulky ATP analogs in human cancer cells. Selective inhibition of Cdk7 in G1 prevents activation (but not formation) of Cdk2/cyclin complexes and delays S phase. Inhibiting Cdk7 in G2 blocks entry to mitosis and disrupts Cdk1/cyclin B complex assembly, indicating that the two steps of Cdk1 activation-cyclin binding and T loop phosphorylation-are mutually dependent. Therefore, by combining chemical genetics and homologous gene replacement in somatic cells, we reveal different modes of CDK activation by Cdk7 at two distinct execution points in the cell cycle.
Project description:The assembly of functional holoenzymes composed of regulatory D-type cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks) is rate limiting for progression through the G1 phase of the mammalian somatic cell cycle. Complexes between D-type cyclins and their major catalytic subunit, cdk4, are catalytically inactive until cyclin-bound cdk4 undergoes phosphorylation on a single threonyl residue (Thr-172). This step is catalyzed by a cdk-activating kinase (CAK) functionally analogous to the enzyme which phosphorylates cdc2 and cdk2 at Thr-161/160. Here, we demonstrate that the catalytic subunit of mouse cdc2/cdk2 CAK (a 39-kDa protein designated p39MO15) can assemble with a regulatory protein present in either insect or mammalian cells to generate a CAK activity capable of phosphorylating and enzymatically activating both cdk2 and cdk4 in complexes with their respective cyclin partners. A newly identified 37-kDa cyclin-like protein (cyclin H [R. P. Fisher and D. O. Morgan, Cell 78:713-724, 1994]) can assemble with p39MO15 to activate both cyclin A-cdk2 and cyclin D-cdk4 in vitro, implying that CAK is structurally reminiscent of cyclin-cdk complexes themselves. Antisera produced to the p39MO15 subunit can completely deplete mammalian cell lysates of CAK activity for both cyclin A-cdk2 and cyclin D-cdk4, with recovery of activity in the resulting immune complexes. By using an immune complex CAK assay, CAK activity for cyclin A-cdk2 and cyclin D-cdk4 was detected both in quiescent cells and invariantly throughout the cell cycle. Therefore, although it is essential for the enzymatic activation of cyclin-cdk complexes, CAK appears to be neither rate limiting for the emergence of cells from quiescence nor subject to upstream regulatory control by stimulatory mitogens.
Project description:How cyclic AMP (cAMP) could positively or negatively regulate G1 phase progression in different cell types or in cancer cells versus normal differentiated counterparts has remained an intriguing question for decades. At variance with the cAMP-dependent mitogenesis of normal thyroid epithelial cells, we show here that cAMP and cAMP-dependent protein kinase activation inhibit S-phase entry in four thyroid carcinoma cell lines that harbor a permanent activation of the Raf/ERK pathway by different oncogenes. Only in Ret/PTC1-positive TPC-1 cells did cAMP markedly inhibit the Raf/ERK cascade, leading to mTOR pathway inhibition, repression of cyclin D1 and p21 and p27 accumulation. p27 knockdown did not prevent the DNA synthesis inhibition. In the other cells, cAMP little affected these signaling cascades and levels of cyclins D or CDK inhibitors. However, cAMP differentially inhibited the pRb-kinase activity and T172-phosphorylation of CDK4 complexed to cyclin D1 or cyclin D3, whereas CDK-activating kinase activity remained unaffected. At variance with current conceptions, our studies in thyroid carcinoma cell lines and previously in normal thyrocytes identify the activating phosphorylation of CDK4 as a common target of opposite cell cycle regulations by cAMP, irrespective of its impact on classical mitogenic signaling cascades and expression of CDK4 regulatory partners.
Project description:Activating phosphorylation of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) is mediated by at least two structurally distinct types of Cdk-activating kinases (Caks): the trimeric Cdk7-cyclin H-Mat1 complex in metazoans and the single-subunit Cak1 in budding yeast. Fission yeast has both Cak types: Mcs6 is a Cdk7 ortholog and Csk1 a single-subunit kinase. Both phosphorylate Cdks in vitro and rescue a thermosensitive budding yeast CAK1 strain. However, this apparent redundancy is not observed in fission yeast in vivo. We have identified mutants that exhibit phenotypes attributable to defects in either Mcs6-activating phosphorylation or in Cdc2-activating phosphorylation. Mcs6, human Cdk7 and budding yeast Cak1 were all active as Caks for Cdc2 when expressed in fission yeast. Although Csk1 could activate Mcs6, it was unable to activate Cdc2. Biochemical experiments supported these genetic results: budding yeast Cak1 could bind and phosphorylate Cdc2 from fission yeast lysates, whereas fission yeast Csk1 could not. These results indicate that Mcs6 is the direct activator of Cdc2, and Csk1 only activates Mcs6. This demonstrates in vivo specificity in Cdk activation by Caks.