The cell cycle inhibitor mimosine was used to examine the activation of the p34cdc2 protein kinase in S phase of the cell cycle. Addition of mimosine to cycling epithelial cells halted cell cycle traverse in S phase, coincident with an inhibition of p34cdc2 histone H1 kinase activity. Mimosine treatment did not alter p34cdc2 synthesis or turnover; however, overall phosphorylation of p34cdc2 was decreased to near undetectable levels. Although activity of p34cdc2 was inhibited, the ability of the protein to form high molecular weight complexes, a phenomenon associated with kinase activation in vivo, was not affected. These results indicate that p34cdc2 complex formation can occur in the absence of phosphorylation and that phosphorylation of p34cdc2 is then required to activate these preformed complexes.

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This work was supported by Grant CA59883 from the NIH and Grant 2624A from The Council for Tobacco Research.

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