A CDK activity buffer ensures mitotic completion

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The eukaryotic cell cycle is driven by the activity of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). CDK activity rises over 50-fold during the cell cycle, from a low level in G1 to a high level in mitosis. However, it is not known whether the entire range of CDK activity is necessary for cell cycle progression, or whether cells can tolerate a reduction in CDK activity level. Here, in fission yeast, we show that sublethal CDK inhibition lengthens the time cells spend in mitosis but does not cause misordering of mitotic events. Maximum attainable CDK activity exceeds the amount necessary for mitosis, and thus forms a CDK activity buffer between sufficient and maximal possible CDK activities. This CDK activity buffer is needed for mitotic completion when CDK activity is compromised, and CDK inhibition only becomes lethal to cells when this buffer is exhausted. Finally, we explore what factors influence this CDK activity buffer, and find that it is influenced by CDK-counteracting phosphatases. Therefore, maximum attainable CDK activity is not necessary for mitosis but provides robustness to CDK activity reduction to ensure mitotic completion.

Journal details

Volume 135
Issue number 12
Pages jcs259626
Available online
Publication date