Gaggioli V, Zeiser E, Rivers D, Bradshaw CR, Ahringer J, Zegerman P
Cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) plays a vital role in proliferation control across eukaryotes. Despite this, how CDK mediates cell cycle and developmental transitions in metazoa is poorly understood. In this paper, we identify orthologues of Sld2, a CDK target that is important for DNA replication in yeast, and characterize SLD-2 in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. We demonstrate that SLD-2 is required for replication initiation and the nuclear retention of a critical component of the replicative helicase CDC-45 in embryos. SLD-2 is a CDK target in vivo, and phosphorylation regulates the interaction with another replication factor, MUS-101. By mutation of the CDK sites in sld-2, we show that CDK phosphorylation of SLD-2 is essential in C. elegans. Finally, using a phosphomimicking sld-2 mutant, we demonstrate that timely CDK phosphorylation of SLD-2 is an important control mechanism to allow normal proliferation in the germline. These results determine an essential function of CDK in metazoa and identify a developmental role for regulated SLD-2 phosphorylation.