GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Dannel McCollum, Ph.D.


Cytokinesis, Cell Cycle Proteins, Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins, Genes, cdc


In order to generate healthy daughter cells, nuclear division and cytokinesis need to be coordinated. Premature division of the cytoplasm in the absence of chromosome segregation or nuclear proliferation without cytokinesis might lead to aneuploidy and cancer.

The cyclin dependent kinases, CDKs, are a main regulator of the cell cycle. Timely increase and decrease in their activity is required for cell cycle progression. To enter mitosis, mitotic CDK activity needs to rise. CDK activity stays elevated until chromosome segregation is completed and exit from mitosis requires decrease in CDK activity.

Observations in several experimental systems suggest that coordination of cytokinesis with the nuclear cycle is regulated through CDK activity. Prolonged high CDK activity, as it occurs when chromosome segregation is delayed, was found to oppose cytokinesis. Prevention of cytokinesis through high CDK activity may therefore provide a mechanism to prevent precocious cell division in the absence of chromosome segregation. To prevent polyploidy when cell division is delayed, progression through the next nuclear cycle should be inhibited until cytokinesis is completed, presumably by the inhibition of CDK activity.

In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, a signaling cascade called Septation Initiation Network (SIN) is required for the coordination of cytokinesis with the nuclear cycle. The SIN is essential for cytokinesis, triggering the execution of cell division through constriction of the actomyosin ring. The activation of the SIN signaling cascade, and thus cytokinesis, is opposed by high CDK activity, preventing precocious cytokinesis.

S. pombe delay entry into the next nuclear division in response to delayed cytokinesis due to defects in the contractile ring until cytokinesis is completed thereby preventing the accumulation of multinucleate, non viable cells. This safeguard against multinucleate cells is termed the cytokinesis checkpoint. The cytokinesis checkpoint keeps CDK activity low, preventing nuclear cycle progression. The SIN is required for the cytokinesis checkpoint and therefore is a key coordinator between nuclear cycle and cytokinesis. How the SIN functions in the cytokinesis checkpoint was not known.

Cdc14-family phosphatases are highly conserved from yeast to humans, but were only characterized in Saccharomyces cerevisiae at the time this thesis was initiated. Cdc14 had been identified as the effector of a signaling cascade homologous to the SIN, called the mitotic exit network (MEN), which is required for exit from mitosis. This thesis describes the identification of the S. pombe Cdc14-like phosphatase Clp1p as a component of the cytokinesis checkpoint. Clp1p opposes CDK activity, and Clp1p and the SIN activate each other in a positive feedback loop. This maintains an active cytokinesis checkpoint and delays mitotic entry. We further found that Clp1p regulates chromosome segregation.

Concluding, this thesis describes discoveries adding to the characterization of the cytokinesis checkpoint and the function of Clp1p. While others found that Cdc14-family phosphatases, including Clp1p, have similar catalytic functions, we show that their biological function may be quite different between organisms, possibly due to different biological challenges.


Chapter 5 not included in digitized version, per author's request.



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Video1: S. pombe cells expressing clp1-GFP sid4-GFP

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Video2: S. pombe cells expressing sid4-GFP

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Video3: S. pombe cells with GFP labeled centromere II (cen2-GFP), released from nda3-km311 block

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Video4: S. pombe cells with GFP labeled centromere II (cen2-GFP) and deletion of clp1, released from nda3-km311 block