The production of mRNAs in all living organisms is an extremely complex process that includes multiple catalytic activities such as transcription, capping, splicing, polyadenylation, cleavage and export. All of these processes are controlled by a large group of proteins which form very dynamic complexes interacting with DNA and pre-mRNAs to coordinate these activities. Phosphorylations play a central role in regulating formation, activation and inactivation of these complexes. A growing number of protein kinases have been identified that are capable of phosphorylating proteins involved in mRNA production. Among them, Cyclin-dependent Kinases (CDKs) represent a family of serine/threonine protein kinases that become active upon binding to a cyclin regulatory partner. CDK/cyclin complexes were first identified as crucial regulators of cell cycle progression. More recently, CDK/cyclin complexes have also been implicated in transcription and mRNA processing leading to the concept of an intricate network of CDK/cyclin complexes regulating cell cycle, transcription and mRNA processing via cross-talk between multiple CDKs. In this review, we discuss the role of CDK/cyclin-dependent phosphorylation in the regulation of transcription and RNA splicing and highlight recent findings that indicate the involvement of CDK/cyclin complexes in connecting transcription and RNA splicing.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank all members of Dr Lahti's laboratory who are involved in the study of the role of CDK11 protein kinases: Dr D. Hu, TY Li and J. Grenet. This work was supported by N.I.H. grant (GM044088), the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) Cancer Center Support Grant (P30CA021765).
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