Characterizing the Associations and Roles of DDK and Mcm2-7 DNA Replication Proteins in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae
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The essential cell cycle kinase Dbf4/Cdc7 (DDK) triggers DNA replication through phosphorylation of the Mcm2-7 helicase at replication origins. Prior work has implicated various Mcm2-7 subunits as targets of DDK, however it is not well understood which specific subunits mediate the docking of the DDK complex. Through yeast two-hybrid and co-immunoprecipitation analyses, we found that Dbf4 and Cdc7 interact with distinct subunits of the Mcm2-7 helicase complex. Dbf4 showed the strongest interaction with Mcm2 while Cdc7 associated with Mcm4 and Mcm5. Dissection of the N-terminal region of Mcm2 revealed two regions that mediate the interaction with Dbf4, whereas in Mcm4, a region near the N-terminus has been previously identified by another group as the DDK docking domain. Mutant forms of Mcm2 (Mcm2ΔDDD) or Mcm4 (Mcm4ΔDDD) lacking the DDK docking domain were expressed in cells and resulted in modest growth and replication defects. Combining the two mutations resulted in synthetic lethality, suggesting a redundant mechanism of Mcm2 and Mcm4 in targeting the DDK complex to Mcm rings. Furthermore, growth inhibition could be induced in a Mcm4ΔDDD background by overexpressing Mcm2 to titrate Dbf4 from Mcm rings. These growth defects were exacerbated in the presence of genotoxic agents such as hydroxyurea and methyl methanesulfonate, suggesting that DDK-Mcm interactions may play a role in stabilizing replication forks under S-phase checkpoint conditions. Regions of Cdc7 were examined for their interaction with Mcm4 and Dbf4. Results have shown that the N-terminal amino acid region 55-124 and the C-terminal region 453-507 of Cdc7 are likely target regions for Dbf4-binding. Several conserved residues were identified within the N-terminal 55-124 Cdc7 region that interface with conserved residues within motif-C of Dbf4. Conserved residues were identified within the DDD domain of Mcm2 and mutating these residues resulted in a decreased interaction with Dbf4. Lastly, bioinformatics analysis has revealed potential conserved residues within the Mcm4DDD region, which may play a role in binding to Cdc7. This research is significant because these factors, which are conserved in all eukaryotes studied to date, should give further insight as to how DNA replication is triggered and how it is affected when cells are exposed to DNA damaging or replication compromising agents. This research also has implications in cancer genetics, as prior studies have shown elevated DDK and Mcm protein levels in tumour cell lines and melanomas, with Cdc7 showing great promise as a cancer therapeutic target. Such knowledge will further enhance our understanding of the DNA replication process and the roles of cell cycle proteins involved, under both normal and checkpoint conditions.