The dynamic properties of the cytoskeleton facilitate cell growth and cell division. The pattern and amount of cell growth, combined with the timing of cell division, generates the spectrum of cell sizes and shapes found in nature. Despite the fundamental importance of these processes, remarkably little is known about how cell growth and cell division are coordinated. In budding yeast, a core component of the cell cycle machinery, cyclin dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1), triggers polarization of the actin cytoskeleton and growth of a new cell early in the cell cycle. This places Cdk1 activity at the hub between the control of polarized cell growth and cell division. My work has demonstrated that signaling from Cdk1 activates highly conserved Rho family GTPases, including Cdc42, which both establish and maintain an axis of polarity along which cell division occurs. Cdk1 triggers the activation of Cdc42 via phosphorylation of a novel multi-protein complex that I have identified by mass spectrometry, comprising of multiple Cdc42 regulators. Exploring the mechanisms by which Cdc42 is activated by Cdk1 activity, and the targets that lie downstream of Cdc42, will therefore improve our understanding of how cell growth and cell division are coordinated, a key unresolved issue in cell biology.
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