Great insight into the molecular details of cell cycle regulation has been obtained in the past decade. However, most of the progress has been in defining the regulation of the family of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). Recent studies of a myriad of eukaryotic organisms have defined both the regulation and substrates of Cdc7p kinase, which forms a CDK-cyclin-like complex with Dbf4p, is necessary for the initiation of DNA replication and has been conserved in evolution. This kinase is also required for the induction of mutations after DNA damage and for commitment to recombination in the meiotic cell cycle. However, less is known about the role of the kinase in these processes. In a manner similar to CDKs, Cdc7p is activated by a regulatory subunit, Dbf4, the levels of which fluctuate during the cell cycle. One or more subunits of the conserved MCM helicase complex at chromosomal origins of DNA replication are substrates for the kinase during S phase. Phosphorylation of the MCM complex by Cdc7p-Dbf4p might activate DNA replication by unwinding DNA. Therefore, activation of Cdc7p is required for DNA replication. Given that Cdc7p-Dbf4 kinase is overexpressed in many neoplastic cells and tumors, it might be an important early biomarker during cancer progression.
- © 2000 by Company of Biologists