Essential role of phosphorylation of MCM2 by Cdc7/Dbf4 in the initiation of DNA replication in mammalian cells

Mol Biol Cell. 2006 Oct;17(10):4459-72. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e06-03-0241. Epub 2006 Aug 9.


We report the identification of Cdc7/Dbf4 phosphorylation sites in human MCM2 and the determination of the role of Cdc7/Dbf4 phosphorylation of MCM2 in the initiation of DNA replication. Using immunoblotting, immunofluorescence, and high-speed automated cell-imaging analyses with antibodies specific against MCM2 and Cdc7/Dbf4 phosphorylated MCM2, we show that the chromatin recruitment and phosphorylation of MCM2 are regulated during the cell cycle in HeLa cells. Chromatin-bound MCM2 is phosphorylated by Cdc7/Dbf4 during G1/S, which coincides with the initiation of DNA replication. Moreover, we show that baculovirus-expressed purified MCM2-7 complex and its phosphomimetic MCM2E-7 complex display higher ATPase activity when compared with the nonphosphorylatable MCM2A-7 complex in vitro. Furthermore, suppression of MCM2 expression in HeLa cells by siRNA results in the inhibition of DNA replication. The inhibition can be rescued by the coexpression of wild type MCM2 or MCM2E but not MCM2A. Taken together, these results indicate that Cdc7/Dbf4 phosphorylation of MCM2 is essential for the initiation of DNA replication in mammalian cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / physiology*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • DNA Replication*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Minichromosome Maintenance Complex Component 2
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology*
  • Transfection


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • DBF4 protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • CDC7 protein, human
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • MCM2 protein, human
  • Minichromosome Maintenance Complex Component 2