Cyclin D-dependent kinases act as mitogen-responsive, rate-limiting controllers of G1 phase progression in mammalian cells. Two novel members of the mouse INK4 gene family, p19 and p18, that specifically inhibit the kinase activities of CDK4 and CDK6, but do not affect those of cyclin E-CDK2, cyclin A-CDK2, or cyclin B-CDC2, were isolated. Like the previously described human INK4 polypeptides, p16INK4a/MTS1 and p15INK4b/MTS2, mouse p19 and p18 are primarily composed of tandemly repeated ankyrin motifs, each ca. 32 amino acids in length, p19 and p18 bind directly to CDK4 and CDK6, whether untethered or in complexes with D cyclins, and can inhibit the activity of cyclin D-bound cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). Although neither protein interacts with D cyclins or displaces them from preassembled cyclin D-CDK complexes in vitro, both form complexes with CDKs at the expense of cyclins in vivo, suggesting that they may also interfere with cyclin-CDK assembly. In proliferating macrophages, p19 mRNA and protein are periodically expressed with a nadir in G1 phase and maximal synthesis during S phase, consistent with the possibility that INK4 proteins limit the activities of CDKs once cells exit G1 phase. However, introduction of a vector encoding p19 into mouse NIH 3T3 cells leads to constitutive p19 synthesis, inhibits cyclin D1-CDK4 activity in vivo, and induces G1 phase arrest
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