The CDK (cyclin-dependent kinase) family of enzymes is required for the G1-to-S-phase and G2-to-M-phase transitions during the cell-division cycle of eukaryotes. We have shown previously that the protein kinase CKII catalyses the phosphorylation of Ser-39 in Cdc2 during the G1 phase of the HeLa cell-division cycle [Russo, Vandenberg, Yu, Bae, Franza and Marshak (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 20317–20325]. To identify a functional role for this phosphorylation, we have studied the homologous enzymes in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The S. cerevisiae homologue of Cdc2, Cdc28, contains a consensus CKII site (Ser-46), which is homologous with that of human Cdc2. Using in vitro kinase assays, metabolic labelling, peptide mapping and phosphoamino acid analysis, we demonstrate that this site is phosphorylated in Cdc28 in vivo as well in vitro. In addition, S. cerevisiae cells in which Ser-46 has been mutated to alanine show a decrease in both cell volume and protein content of 33%, and this effect is most pronounced in the stationary phase. Because cell size in S. cerevisiae is regulated primarily at the G1 stage, we suggest that CKII contributes to the regulation of the cell cycle in budding yeast by phosphorylation of Cdc28 as a checkpoint for G1 progression.

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