A mechanism for how Cdr1/Nim1 kinase promotes mitotic entry by inhibiting Wee1
To enter into mitosis, cells must shut off the cell cycle inhibitor Wee1. SAD family protein kinases regulate Wee1 signaling in yeast and humans. In S. pombe , two SAD kinases (Cdr1/Nim1 and Cdr2) act as upstream inhibitors of Wee1. Previous studies found that S. pombe Cdr1/Nim1 directly phosphorylates and inhibits Wee1 in vitro , but different results were obtained for budding yeast and human SAD kinases. Without a full understanding of Cdr1 action on Wee1, it has been difficult to assess the in vivo relevance and conservation of this mechanism. Here, we show that both Cdr1 and Cdr2 promote Wee1 phosphorylation in cells, but only Cdr1 inhibits Wee1 kinase activity. Inhibition occurs when Cdr1 phosphorylates a cluster of serine residues linking α-helices G and H of the Wee1 kinase domain. This region is highly divergent among different Wee1 proteins, consistent with distinct regulatory mechanisms. A wee(4A) mutant that impairs phosphorylation by Cdr1 delays mitotic entry and causes elongated cells. By disrupting and re-targeting Cdr1 localization, we show that Cdr1 inhibition of Wee1 occurs in cells at cortical nodes formed by Cdr2. Based on our results, we propose a two-step model for inhibition of Wee1 by Cdr1 and Cdr2 at nodes.
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