Cyclin E-CDK2 is a regulator of p27Kip1

Genes Dev. 1997 Jun 1;11(11):1464-78. doi: 10.1101/gad.11.11.1464.


CDK inhibitors are thought to prevent cell proliferation by negatively regulating cyclin-CDK complexes. We propose that the opposite is also true, that cyclin-CDK complexes in mammmalian cells can promote cell cycle progression by directly down-regulating CDK inhibitors. We show that expression of cyclin E-CDK2 in murine fibroblasts causes phosphorylation of the CDK inhibitor p27Kip1 on T187, and that cyclin E-CDK2 can directly phosphorylate p27 T187 in vitro. We further show that cyclin E-CDK2-dependent phosphorylation of p27 results in elimination of p27 from the cell, allowing cells to transit from G1 to S phase. Moreover, mutation of T187 in p27 to alanine creates a p27 protein that causes a G1 block resistant to cyclin E and whose level of expression is not modulated by cyclin E. A kinetic analysis of the interaction between p27 and cyclin E-CDK2 explains how p27 can be regulated by the same enzyme it targets for inhibition. We show that p27 interacts with cyclin E-CDK2 in at least two distinct ways: one resulting in p27 phosphorylation and release, the other in tight binding and cyclin E-CDK2 inhibition. The binding of ATP to the CDK governs which state predominates. At low ATP (< 50 microM) p27 is primarily a CDK inhibitor, but at ATP concentrations approaching physiological levels (> 1 mM) p27 is more likely to be a substrate. Thus, we have identified p27 as a biologically relevant cyclin E-CDK2 substrate, demonstrated the physiological consequences of p27 phosphorylation, and developed a kinetic model to explain how p27 can be both an inhibitor and a substrate of cyclin E-CDK2.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • CDC2-CDC28 Kinases*
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / metabolism*
  • Cyclins / metabolism*
  • Down-Regulation*
  • G1 Phase / physiology
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • S Phase / physiology
  • Threonine / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*


  • Cdkn1b protein, mouse
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cyclins
  • Histones
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Threonine
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • CDC2-CDC28 Kinases
  • Cdk2 protein, mouse
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases