Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) play a central role in the regulation of cell cycle progression in eukaryotes. The onset of S phase, the initiation of chromosomal DNA replication, is a major cell cycle event that is regulated by CDKs. Eukaryotic chromosomal DNA replication is highly regulated and occurs as a two-step reaction. The first reaction, known as licensing, is essential for DNA replication by making cell replication competent and occurs in G1 phase. Once cells enter S phase, licensed chromosomes initiate DNA replication through the action of two conserved protein kinases, S phase-specific CDK and Cdc7-Dbf4 (or Dbf4-dependent kinase). Our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms of DNA replication in model eukaryotes has advanced considerably in the past decade. In this review, we overview the regulation of DNA replication in the eukaryotic cell cycle, focusing specifically on how CDKs regulate the initiation step of DNA replication.
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