Polo kinases have crucial conserved functions in controlling the eukaryotic cell cycle through orchestrating several events during mitosis. An essential element of cell cycle control is exerted by altering the expression of key regulators. Here we show an important function for the polo kinase Cdc5p in controlling cell-cycle-dependent gene expression that is crucial for the execution of mitosis in the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In particular, we find that Cdc5p is temporally recruited to promoters of the cell-cycle-regulated CLB2 gene cluster, where it targets the Mcm1p-Fkh2p-Ndd1p transcription factor complex, through direct phosphorylation of the coactivator protein Ndd1p. This phosphorylation event is required for the normal temporal expression of cell-cycle-regulated genes such as CLB2 and SWI5 in G2/M phases. Furthermore, severe defects in cell division occur in the absence of Cdc5p-mediated phosphorylation of Ndd1p. Thus, polo kinase is required for the production of key mitotic regulators, in addition to previously defined roles in controlling other mitotic events.
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