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ABSTRACT Entry into mitosis is controlled by the cyclin-dependent kinase CDK1 and can be delayed in response to DNA damage. In some systems, such G 2 /M arrest has been shown to reflect the stabilization of inhibitory phosphorylation sites on CDK1. In human cells, full G 2 arrest appears to involve additional mechanisms. We describe here the prolonged (>6 day) downregulation of CDK1 protein and mRNA levels following DNA damage in human cells. This silencing of gene expression is observed in primary human fibroblasts and in two cell lines with functional p53 but not in HeLa cells, where p53 is inactive. Silencing is accompanied by the accumulation of cells in G 2 , when CDK1 expression is normally maximal. The response is impaired by mutations in cis -acting elements (CDE and CHR) in the CDK1 promoter, indicating that silencing occurs at the transcriptional level. These elements have previously been implicated in the repression of transcription during G 1 that is normally lifted as cells progress into S and G 2 . Interestingly, we find that other genes, including those for CDC25C, cyclin A2, cyclin B1, CENP-A, and topoisomerase IIα, that are normally expressed preferentially in G 2 and whose promoter regions include putative CDE and CHR elements are also downregulated in response to DNA damage. These data, together with those of other groups, support the existence of a p53-dependent, DNA damage-activated pathway leading to CHR- and CDE-mediated transcriptional repression of various G 2 -specific genes. This pathway may be required for sustained periods of G 2 arrest following DNA damage.

Original publication




Journal article


Molecular and Cellular Biology


American Society for Microbiology

Publication Date





2358 - 2366