The replication checkpoint (or ‘S-M checkpoint’) control prevents progression into mitosis when DNA replication is incomplete. Caffeine has been known for some time to have the capacity to override the S-M checkpoint in animal cells. We show here that caffeine also disrupts the S-M checkpoint in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. By contrast, no comparable effects of caffeine on the S. pombe DNA damage checkpoint were seen. S. pombe cells arrested in early S phase and then exposed to caffeine lost viability rapidly as they attempted to enter mitosis, which was accompanied by tyrosine dephosphorylation of Cdc2. Despite this, the caffeine-induced loss of viability was not blocked in a temperature-sensitive cdc2 mutant incubated at the restrictive temperature, although catastrophic mitosis was prevented under these conditions. This suggests that, in addition to S-M checkpoint control, a caffeine-sensitive function may be important for maintenance of cell viability during S phase arrest. The lethality of a combination of caffeine with the DNA replication inhibitor hydroxyurea was suppressed by overexpression of Cds1 or Chk1, protein kinases previously implicated in S-M checkpoint control and recovery from S phase arrest. In addition, the same combination of drugs was specifically tolerated in cells overexpressing either of two novel S. pombe genes isolated in a cDNA library screen. These findings should allow further molecular investigation of the regulation of S phase arrest, and may provide a useful system with which to identify novel drugs that specifically abrogate the checkpoint control.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists