During the cell cycle, hundreds of proteins become phosphorylated and dephosphorylated, indicating that protein kinases and protein phosphatases play a central role in its regulation. It has been widely recognized that oscillation in cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity promotes DNA replication, during S-phase, and chromosome segregation, during mitosis. Each CDK substrate phosphorylation status is defined by the balance between CDKs and CDK-counteracting phosphatases. In fission yeast and animal cells, PP2A/B55 is the main protein phosphatase that counteracts CDK activity. PP2A/B55 plays a key role in mitotic entry and mitotic exit, and it is regulated by the Greatwall-Endosulfine (ENSA) molecular switch that inactivates PP2A/B55 at the onset of mitosis, allowing maximal CDK activity at metaphase. The Greatwall-ENSA-PP2A/B55 pathway is highly conserved from yeast to animal cells. In yeasts, Greatwall is negatively regulated by nutrients through TORC1 and S6 kinase, and couples cell growth, regulated by TORC1, to cell cycle progression, driven by CDK activity. In animal cells, Greatwall is phosphorylated and activated by Cdk1 at G2/M, generating a bistable molecular switch that results in full activation of Cdk1/CyclinB. Here we review the current knowledge of the Greatwall-ENSA-PP2A/B55 pathway and discuss its role in cell cycle progression and as an integrator of nutritional cues.
Keywords: CDK; Cyclin; ENSA; Greatwall; PP2A/B55; TOR; cell cycle; cell growth; mitosis.