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, 7 (6), 835-42

What Is the Restriction Point?


What Is the Restriction Point?

A Zetterberg et al. Curr Opin Cell Biol.


The restriction point (R) separates two functionally different parts of G1 in continuously cycling cells. G1-pm represents the postmitotic interval of G1 that lasts from mitosis to R. G1-ps represents the pre S phase interval of G1 that lasts from R to S. G1-pm is remarkably constant in length (its duration is about three hours) in the different cell types studied so far. G1-ps, however, varies considerably, indicating that entry into S is not directly followed after passage through R. Progression through G1-pm requires continuous stimulation by mitogenic signals (e.g. growth factors) and a high rate of protein synthesis. Interruption of the mitogenic signals or moderate inhibition of protein synthesis leads to a rapid exit from the cell cycle to G0 in normal (untransformed) cells. Upon restimulation with mitogenic signals, the cell returns to the same point in G1-pm from which it left the cell cycle. Thus the cell seems to have a memory for how far it has advanced through G1-pm, suggesting that a continuous structural alteration, for example chromatin decondensation, takes place in G1. The molecular background to transition from growth factor dependence in G1-pm to growth factor independence in G1-ps (a switch which represents commitment to a new cell cycle and passage through R) is still not fully understood. Cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk)-mediated hyperphosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb), and concomitant liberation (and activation) of members of the E2F family of transcription factors, are probably important aspects of R control in normal cells. A key component here could be cdk2 activity which is controlled by cyclin E. When cdk2 activity starts to increase rapidly in G1, due to activation of a positive feedback loop, it reaches a critical level above which cdk inhibitors (CKIs) such as p21 and p27 are outweighed; the cell has then become independent of mitogenic and inhibitory signals and is committed to a new cell cycle. However, other components are probably also involved in R control. For instance, a 'cryptic' R (a G1-pm-like state) can be induced even in tumour cells that do not respond to growth factor starvation or protein synthesis inhibitors, and are therefore probably defective in the cdk-Rb-E2F pathway. Possibly, a certain degree of chromatin decondensation has to take place after mitosis in order to allow transcription of, for example, the cyclin E gene or other critical E2F targets. Although the molecular basis for restriction point control still remains unclear, we can expect rapid progress in this important field over the next few years.

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