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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Bipartite binding of a kinase activator activates Cdc7-related kinase essential for S phase.

Dfp1/Him1 protein of fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, encodes the regulatory subunit for Hsk1 kinase, a homologue of budding yeast Cdc7 kinase essential for initiation and progression of the S phase of the cell cycle. This protein binds and activates Hsk1 kinase, which phosphorylates the MCM2 protein. Comparison of the amino acid sequences of the Cdc7 regulatory subunits from various eukaryotes revealed the presence of three small stretches of conserved amino acid sequences, namely Dbf4 motifs N, M, and C. We report here that the Dbf4 motif M, a unique proline-rich motif, and the Dbf4 motif C, a C(2)H(2)-type zinc finger motif, are essential for mitotic functions of Dfp1/Him1 protein as well as for full-level activation of Hsk1 kinase. In vitro, a small segment containing the Dbf4 motif M or C alone binds to and partially activates Hsk1. Co-expression of these two segments augments the extent of activation. Furthermore, a fused polypeptide containing only Dbf4 motifs M and C without any spacer can activate Hsk1 and is capable of rescuing the growth defect of him1 null cells. Insertion of a long stretch of amino acids between the motif M and motif C can be tolerated for mitotic functions. On the other hand, internal deletion of Dbf4 motif N, which has some similarity with the BRCA C-terminal domain motif, results in a defect in hydroxyurea-induced checkpoint responses and sensitivity to methyl methane sulfonate, yet mitotic functions and kinase activation are intact. In one-hybrid assays with budding yeast Dbf4, motif N mutants exhibit reduced interaction with a replication origin. Our observations suggest the molecular architecture of Cdc7.Dbf4-related kinase complexes at the origins, in which they are tethered to replication machinery through Dbf4 motif N and the catalytic subunits are activated through bipartite binding of Dbf4 motifs M and C of the regulatory subunits.[1]


  1. Bipartite binding of a kinase activator activates Cdc7-related kinase essential for S phase. Ogino, K., Takeda, T., Matsui, E., Iiyama, H., Taniyama, C., Arai , K., Masai, H. J. Biol. Chem. (2001) [Pubmed]
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