Barr, A.R., Cooper, S., Heldt, F.S., Butera, F., Stoy, H., Mansfeld, J., Novák, B. & Bakal, C.
(2017). DNA damage during S-phase mediates the proliferation-quiescence decision in the subsequent G1 via p21 expression. Nat commun,
Following DNA damage caused by exogenous sources, such as ionizing radiation, the tumour suppressor p53 mediates cell cycle arrest via expression of the CDK inhibitor, p21. However, the role of p21 in maintaining genomic stability in the absence of exogenous DNA-damaging agents is unclear. Here, using live single-cell measurements of p21 protein in proliferating cultures, we show that naturally occurring DNA damage incurred over S-phase causes p53-dependent accumulation of p21 during mother G2- and daughter G1-phases. High p21 levels mediate G1 arrest via CDK inhibition, yet lower levels have no impact on G1 progression, and the ubiquitin ligases CRL4Cdt2 and SCFSkp2 couple to degrade p21 prior to the G1/S transition. Mathematical modelling reveals that a bistable switch, created by CRL4Cdt2, promotes irreversible S-phase entry by keeping p21 levels low, preventing premature S-phase exit upon DNA damage. Thus, we characterize how p21 regulates the proliferation-quiescence decision to maintain genomic stability..
Barr, A.R., Heldt, F.S., Zhang, T., Bakal, C. & Novák, B.
(2016). A Dynamical Framework for the All-or-None G1/S Transition. Cell syst,
The transition from G1 into DNA replication (S phase) is an emergent behavior resulting from dynamic and complex interactions between cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks), Cdk inhibitors (CKIs), and the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C). Understanding the cellular decision to commit to S phase requires a quantitative description of these interactions. We apply quantitative imaging of single human cells to track the expression of G1/S regulators and use these data to parametrize a stochastic mathematical model of the G1/S transition. We show that a rapid, proteolytic, double-negative feedback loop between Cdk2:Cyclin and the Cdk inhibitor p27(Kip1) drives a switch-like entry into S phase. Furthermore, our model predicts that increasing Emi1 levels throughout S phase are critical in maintaining irreversibility of the G1/S transition, which we validate using Emi1 knockdown and live imaging of G1/S reporters. This work provides insight into the general design principles of the signaling networks governing the temporally abrupt transitions between cell-cycle phases..