cdk-7 is required for mRNA transcription and cell cycle progression in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos

Matthew R. Wallenfang, Geraldine Seydoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


CDK7 is a cyclin-dependent kinase proposed to function in two essential cellular processes: transcription and cell cycle regulation. CDK7 is the kinase subunit of the general transcription factor TFIIH that phosphorylates the C-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II, and has been shown to be broadly required for transcription in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. CDK7 can also phosphorylate CDKs that promote cell cycle progression, and has been shown to function as a CDK-activating kinase (CAK) in Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Drosophila melanogaster. That CDK7 performs both functions in metazoans has been difficult to prove because transcription is essential for cell cycle progression in most cells. We have isolated a temperature-sensitive mutation in Caenorhabditis elegans cdk-7 and have used it to analyze the role of cdk-7 in embryonic blastomeres, where cell cycle progression is independent of transcription. Partial loss of cdk-7 activity leads to a general decrease in CTD phosphorylation and embryonic transcription, and severe loss of cdk-7 activity blocks all cell divisions. Our results support a dual role for metazoan CDK7 as a broadly required CTD kinase, and as a CAK essential for cell cycle progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5527-5532
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 16 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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