Multisite phosphoregulation of Cdc25 activity refines the mitotic entrance and exit switches.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) kinase dephosphorylation and activation by Cdc25 phosphatase are essential for mitotic entry. Activated Cdk1 phosphorylates Cdc25 and other substrates, further activating Cdc25 to form a positive feedback loop that drives the abrupt G2/mitosis switch. Conversely, mitotic exit requires Cdk1 inactivation and reversal of Cdk1 substrate phosphorylation. This dephosphorylation is mediated, in part, by Clp1/Cdc14, a Cdk1-antagonizing phosphatase, which reverses Cdk1 phosphorylation of itself, Cdc25, and other Cdk1 substrates. Thus, Cdc25 phosphoregulation is essential for proper G2-M transition, and its contributions to cell cycle control have been modeled based on studies using Xenopus and human cell extracts. Because cell extract systems only approximate in vivo conditions where proteins interact within dynamic cellular environments, here, we use Schizosaccharomyces pombe to characterize, both experimentally and mathematically, the in vivo contributions of Cdk1-mediated phosphorylation of Cdc25 to the mitotic transition. Through comprehensive mapping of Cdk1 phosphosites on Cdc25 and characterization of phosphomutants, we show that Cdc25 hyperphosphorylation by Cdk1 governs Cdc25 catalytic activation, the precision of mitotic entry, and unvarying cell length but not Cdc25 localization or abundance. We propose a mathematical model that explains Cdc25 regulation by Cdk1 through a distributive and disordered phosphorylation mechanism that ultrasensitively activates Cdc25. We also show that Clp1/Cdc14 dephosphorylation of Cdk1 sites on Cdc25 controls the proper timing of cell division, a mechanism that is likely due to the double negative feedback loop between Clp1/Cdc14 and Cdc25 that controls the abruptness of the mitotic exit switch.