In most eukaryotes, cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) play a central role in control of cell-cycle progression. Cdks are inactivated from the end of mitosis to the start of the next cell cycle as well as during sexual differentiation. The forkhead-type transcription factor Fkh2p is required for the periodic expression of many genes and for efficient mating in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. However, the mechanism responsible for coordination of cell-cycle progression with sexual differentiation is still unknown. We now show that Fkh2p is phosphorylated by Cdc2p (Cdk1) and that phosphorylation of Fkh2p on T314 or S462 by this Cdk blocks mating in S. pombe by preventing the induction of ste11(+) transcription, which is required for the onset of sexual development. We propose that functional interaction between Cdks and forkhead transcription factors may link the mitotic cell cycle and sexual differentiation.
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