At a distinct point during G1 phase (the origin decision point [ODP]), Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell nuclei experience a transition (origin choice) that is required for specific recognition of the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) origin locus by Xenopus egg extracts. We have investigated the relationship between the ODP and progression of CHO cells through G1 phase. Selection of the DHFR origin at the ODP was rapidly inhibited by treatment of early G1-phase cells with the protein kinase inhibitor 2-aminopurine (2-AP). Inhibition of the ODP required administration of 2-AP at least 3 h prior to phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (Rb) and the restriction point (R point). Cells deprived of either serum or isoleucine from metaphase throughout early G1 phase acquired the capacity to replicate in Xenopus egg extract (replication licensing) and subsequently passed through the ODP on the same schedule as cells cultured in complete growth medium. After growth arrest at the R point with hypophosphorylated Rb protein, serum- or isoleucine-deprived cells experienced a gradual loss of replication licensing. However, recognition of the DHFR origin by Xenopus egg cytosol remained stable in growth-arrested cells until the point at which all nuclei had lost the capacity to initiate replication. These results provide evidence that the ODP requires a mitogen-independent protein kinase that is activated after replication licensing and prior to R-point control
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