Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, p42MAPK and p44MAPK, are central components of growth-promoting signalling pathways. However, how stimulation of MAP kinases culminates in cell-cycle progression is still poorly understood. Here we show that mitogenic stimulation of NIH 3T3 cells causes a sustained activation of MAP kinases, which lasts until cells begin progressing through the G1/S boundary. Furthermore, we observed that disruption of the MAP-kinase pathway with a selective MEK (MAP kinase/extracellular-signal-regulated protein kinase kinase) inhibitor, PD98059, prevents the activation of cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) 2 and DNA synthesis, even when added during late G1 phase, once the known mechanisms by which MAP kinase controls G1 progression, accumulation of G1 cyclins and degradation of Cdk inhibitors have already taken place. Moreover, we provide evidence indicating that MAP kinases control Cdk2 Thr-160 activating phosphorylation and function, possibly by regulating the activity of a Cdk-activating kinase, thus promoting the re-initiation of DNA synthesis. These findings suggest the existence of a novel mechanism whereby signal-transducing pathways converging on MAP kinases can affect the cell-cycle machinery and, ultimately, participate in cell-growth control.
- Cdk-activating kinase
- cell-cycle control
- MEK inhibitors
- The Biochemical Society, London © 2000