Defining Roles for Cyclin Dependent Kinases and a Transcriptional Oscillator in the Organization of Cell-Cycle Events

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The cell cycle is a series of ordered events that culminates in a single cell dividing into two daughter cells. These events must be properly coordinated to ensure the faithful passage of genetic material. How cell cycle events are carried out accurately remains a fundamental question in cell biology. In this dissertation, I investigate mechanisms orchestrating cell-cycle events in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) activity is thought to both form the fundamental cell-cycle oscillator and act as an effector of that oscillator, regulating cell-cycle events. By measuring transcript dynamics over time in cells lacking all CDK activity, I show that transcriptional oscillations are not dependent on CDK activity. This data indicates that CDKs do not form the underlying cell-cycle oscillator. I propose a model in which a transcription factor network rather than CDK activity forms the cell-cycle oscillator. In this model, CDKs are activated by the periodic transcription of cyclin genes and feedback on the network increasing the robustness of network oscillations in addition to regulating cell-cycle events.

I also investigate CDK-dependent and -independent mechanism regulating the duplication of the yeast centrosome, the spindle pole body (SPB). It is critical for the formation of a bipolar spindle in mitosis that the SPB duplicates once and only once per cell cycle. Through a combination of genetic and microscopic techniques I show that three distinct mechanisms regulate SPB duplication, ensuring its restriction to once per cell cycle.

Together, the data presented in this dissertation support a model in which CDKs, periodic transcription, and a TF-network oscillator are all important cell-cycle regulatory mechanisms that collaborate to regulate the intricate collection of events that constitute the cell cycle.






Simmons Kovacs, Laura Anne (2009). Defining Roles for Cyclin Dependent Kinases and a Transcriptional Oscillator in the Organization of Cell-Cycle Events. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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