Evolution of opposing regulatory interactions underlies the emergence of eukaryotic cell cycle checkpoints

Rosa D. Hernansaiz-Ballesteros, Csenge Földi, Luca Cardelli, László G. Nagy, Attila Csikász-Nagy*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)


In eukaryotes the entry into mitosis is initiated by activation of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), which in turn activate a large number of protein kinases to induce all mitotic processes. The general view is that kinases are active in mitosis and phosphatases turn them off in interphase. Kinases activate each other by cross- and self-phosphorylation, while phosphatases remove these phosphate groups to inactivate kinases. Crucial exceptions to this general rule are the interphase kinase Wee1 and the mitotic phosphatase Cdc25. Together they directly control CDK in an opposite way of the general rule of mitotic phosphorylation and interphase dephosphorylation. Here we investigate why this opposite system emerged and got fixed in almost all eukaryotes. Our results show that this reversed action of a kinase-phosphatase pair, Wee1 and Cdc25, on CDK is particularly suited to establish a stable G2 phase and to add checkpoints to the cell cycle. We show that all these regulators appeared together in LECA (Last Eukaryote Common Ancestor) and co-evolved in eukaryotes, suggesting that this twist in kinase-phosphatase regulation was a crucial step happening at the emergence of eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11122
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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