In response to DNA damage, mammalian cells prevent cell cycle progression through the control of critical cell cycle regulators. A human gene was identified that encodes the protein Chk1, a homolog of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe Chk1 protein kinase, which is required for the DNA damage checkpoint. Human Chk1 protein was modified in response to DNA damage. In vitro Chk1 bound to and phosphorylated the dual-specificity protein phosphatases Cdc25A, Cdc25B, and Cdc25C, which control cell cycle transitions by dephosphorylating cyclin-dependent kinases. Chk1 phosphorylates Cdc25C on serine-216. As shown in an accompanying paper by Peng et al. in this issue, serine-216 phosphorylation creates a binding site for 14-3-3 protein and inhibits function of the phosphatase. These results suggest a model whereby in response to DNA damage, Chk1 phosphorylates and inhibits Cdc25C, thus preventing activation of the Cdc2-cyclin B complex and mitotic entry.
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