In fission yeast as well as in higher eukaryotic organisms, entry into mitosis is delayed in cells containing damaged or unreplicated DNA. This is accomplished in part by maintaining the Cdc25 phosphatase in a phosphorylated form that binds 14-3-3 proteins. In this study, we generated a mutant of fission yeast Cdc25 that is severely impaired in its ability to bind 14-3-3 proteins. Loss of both the DNA damage and replication checkpoints was observed in fission yeast cells expressing the 14-3-3 binding mutant. These findings indicate that 14-3-3 binding to Cdc25 is required for fission yeast cells to arrest their cell cycle in response to DNA damage and replication blocks. Furthermore, the 14-3-3 binding mutant localized almost exclusively to the nucleus, unlike wild-type Cdc25, which localized to both the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Nuclear accumulation of wild-type Cdc25 was observed when fission yeast cells were treated with leptomycin B, indicating that Cdc25 is actively exported from the nucleus. Nuclear exclusion of wild-type Cdc25 was observed upon overproduction of Rad 24, one of the two fission yeast 14-3-3 proteins, indicating that one function of Rad 24 is to keep Cdc25 out of the nucleus. In support of this conclusion, Rad 24 overproduction did not alter the nuclear location of the 14-3-3 binding mutant. These results indicate that 14-3-3 binding contributes to the nuclear exclusion of Cdc25 and that the nuclear exclusion of Cdc25 is required for a normal checkpoint response to both damaged and unreplicated DNA.
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