The DNA replication licensing factor Cdt1 is degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway during S phase of the cell cycle, to ensure one round of DNA replication during each cell division and in response to DNA damage to halt DNA replication. Constitutive expression of Cdt1 causes DNA re-replication and is associated with the development of a subset of human non-small cell-lung carcinomas. In mammalian cells, DNA damage-induced Cdt1 degradation is catalyzed by the Cul4-Ddb1-Roc1 E3 ubiquitin ligase. We report here that overexpression of the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) inhibitory domain from the CDK inhibitors p21 and p57, but not the CDK-cyclin inhibitory domain, blocked Cdt1 degradation in cultured mammalian cells after UV irradiation. In vivo soluble Cdt1 and PCNA co-elute by gel filtration and associate with each other physically. Silencing PCNA in cultured mammalian cells or repression of pcn1 expression in fission yeast blocked Cdt1 degradation in response to DNA damage. Unexpectedly, deletion of Ddb1 in fission yeast cells also accumulated Cdt1 in the absence of DNA damage. We suggest that the Cul4-Ddb1 ligase evolved to ubiquitinate Cdt1 during normal cell growth as well as in response to DNA damage and a separate E3 ligase, possibly SCF(Skp2), evolved to either share or take over the function of Cdt1 ubiquitination during normal cell growth and that PCNA is involved in mediating Cdt1 degradation by the Cul4-Ddb1 ligase in response to DNA damage.
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