Proliferation and apoptosis are increased in many types of inflammatory diseases. A role for the cyclin kinase inhibitor p27Kip1 (p27) in limiting proliferation has been shown. In this study, we show that p27–/– mesangial cells and fibroblasts have strikingly elevated rates of apoptosis, not proliferation, when deprived of growth factors. Apoptosis was rescued by restoration of p27 expression. Cyclin A–cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) activity, but not cyclin E–CDK2 activity, was increased in serum-starved p27–/– cells, and decreasing CDK2 activity, either pharmacologically (Roscovitine) or by a dominant–negative mutant, inhibited apoptosis. Our results show that a new biological function for the CDK inhibitor p27 is protection of cells from apoptosis by constraining CDK2 activity. These results suggest that CDK inhibitors are necessary for coordinating the cell cycle and cell-death programs so that cell viability is maintained during exit from the cell cycle.
Keiju Hiromura, Jeffrey W. Pippin, Matthew L. Fero, James M. Roberts, Stuart J. Shankland