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

Characterization of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe Cdk9/Pch1 protein kinase: Spt5 phosphorylation, autophosphorylation, and mutational analysis.

Schizosaccharomyces pombe Cdk9/Pch1 protein kinase is a functional ortholog of the essential Saccharomyces cerevisiae Bur1/Bur2 kinase and a putative ortholog of metazoan P-TEFb (Cdk9/cyclin T). SpCdk9/Pch1 phosphorylates of the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of the S. pombe transcription elongation factor Spt5, which consists of 18 tandem repeats of a nonapeptide of consensus sequence 1TPAWNSGSK9. We document the divalent cation dependence and specificity of SpCdk9/Pch1, its NTP dependence and specificity, the dependence of Spt5-CTD phosphorylation on the number of tandem nonamer repeats, and the specificity for phosphorylation of the Spt5-CTD on threonine at position 1 within the nonamer element. SpCdk9/Pch1 also phosphorylates the CTD heptaptide repeat array of the largest subunit of S. pombe RNA polymerase II (consensus sequence YSPTSPS) and does so exclusively on serine. SpCdk9/Pch1 catalyzes autophosphorylation of the kinase and cyclin subunits of the kinase complex. The distribution of phosphorylation sites on SpCdk9 (86% Ser(P), 11% Thr(P), 3% Tyr(P)) is distinct from that on Pch1 (2% Ser(P), 98% Thr(P)). We conducted a structure-guided mutational analysis of SpCdk9, whereby a total of 29 new mutations of 12 conserved residues were tested for in vivo function by complementation of a yeast bur1Delta mutant. We identified many lethal and conditional mutations of side chains implicated in binding ATP and the divalent cation cofactor, phosphoacceptor substrate recognition, and T-loop dynamics. We surmise that the lethality of the of T212A mutation in the T-loop reflects an essential phosphorylation event, insofar as the conservative T212S change rescued wild-type growth; the phosphomimetic T212E change rescued growth at 30 degrees C; and the effects of mutating the T-loop threonine were phenocopied by mutations in the three conserved arginines predicted to chelate the phosphate on the T-loop threonine.[1]


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