Ubiquitin-proteasome-mediated destruction of rate-limiting proteins is required for timely progression through the main cell cycle transitions. The anaphase-promoting complex (APC), periodically activated by the Cdh1 subunit, represents one of the major cellular ubiquitin ligases which, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Drosophila spp., triggers exit from mitosis and during G(1) prevents unscheduled DNA replication. In this study we investigated the importance of periodic oscillation of the APC-Cdh1 activity for the cell cycle progression in human cells. We show that conditional interference with the APC-Cdh1 dissociation at the G(1)/S transition resulted in an inability to accumulate a surprisingly broad range of critical mitotic regulators including cyclin B1, cyclin A, Plk1, Pds1, mitosin (CENP-F), Aim1, and Cdc20. Unexpectedly, although constitutively assembled APC-Cdh1 also delayed G(1)/S transition and lowered the rate of DNA synthesis during S phase, some of the activities essential for DNA replication became markedly amplified, mainly due to a progressive increase of E2F-dependent cyclin E transcription and a rapid turnover of the p27(Kip1) cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor. Consequently, failure to inactivate APC-Cdh1 beyond the G(1)/S transition not only inhibited productive cell division but also supported slow but uninterrupted DNA replication, precluding S-phase exit and causing massive overreplication of the genome. Our data suggest that timely oscillation of the APC-Cdh1 ubiquitin ligase activity represents an essential step in coordinating DNA replication with cell division and that failure of mechanisms regulating association of APC with the Cdh1 activating subunit can undermine genomic stability in mammalian cells.
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