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Reference: Charvin G, et al. (2010) Origin of irreversibility of cell cycle start in budding yeast. PLoS Biol 8(1):e1000284

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Abstract


Budding yeast cells irreversibly commit to a new division cycle at a regulatory transition called Start. This essential decision-making step involves the activation of the SBF/MBF transcription factors. SBF/MBF promote expression of the G1 cyclins encoded by CLN1 and CLN2. Cln1,2 can activate their own expression by inactivating the Whi5 repressor of SBF/MBF. The resulting transcriptional positive feedback provides an appealing, but as yet unproven, candidate for generating irreversibility of Start. Here, we investigate the logic of the Start regulatory module by quantitative single-cell time-lapse microscopy, using strains in which expression of key regulators is efficiently controlled by changes of inducers in a microfluidic chamber. We show that Start activation is ultrasensitive to G1 cyclin. In the absence of CLN1,2-dependent positive feedback, we observe that Start transit is reversible, due to reactivation of the Whi5 transcriptional repressor. Introduction of the positive feedback loop makes Whi5 inactivation and Start activation irreversible, which therefore guarantees unidirectional entry into S phase. A simple mathematical model to describe G1 cyclin turn on at Start, entirely constrained by empirically measured parameters, shows that the experimentally measured ultrasensitivity and transcriptional positive feedback are necessary and sufficient dynamical characteristics to make the Start transition a bistable and irreversible switch. Our study thus demonstrates that Start irreversibility is a property that arises from the architecture of the system (Whi5/SBF/Cln2 loop), rather than the consequence of the regulation of a single component (e.g., irreversible protein degradation).

Reference Type
Journal Article
Authors
Charvin G, Oikonomou C, Siggia ED, Cross FR
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