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Title: The regulation and inhibition of P-TEFb
Author: Hole, Alison Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 8969
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Correct regulation of transcription is essential for maintaining a healthy cellular state. During transcription RNA polymerase II (Pol II) proceeds in a regulated manner through several transitions to ensure appropriate control of synthesis and enable correct processing of the pre-RNA. Shortly after initiation Pol II is caused to pause by the binding of factors, DSIF and NELF. To enable transition of Pol II into the elongation phase CDK9/cyclin T phosphorylates the C-terminal domain (CTD) of Pol II, DSIF and NELF. This phosphorylation releases the paused state and provides an alternative set of post-transcriptional modifications on the CTD to generate a binding platform for elongation, histone modifying and termination factors. CDK9/cyclin T is itself regulated within multicomponent complexes. A small activated complex, containing Brd4, recruits CDK9/cyclin T to active sites of transcription, thereby promoting the elongation of transcription. The role of CDK9/cyclin T in the regulation of transcription has resulted in its validation as a drug target against several disease states including cancer, HIV and cardiac hypertrophy. In this thesis, I present the crystallographic structures of a series of 2-amino-4-heteroaryl-pyrimidine compounds and the roscovitine derivative, (S)-CR8, bound to CDK9/cyclin T and CDK2/cyclin A. In combination with thermal denaturation data and kinetic analysis, these structures have suggested chemical modifications that might be made to increase the CDK9 specificity of these compounds. I have also validated the use of a mutated form of cyclin T for use in the development of CDK9/cyclin T inhibitors. In addition, I present both structural and kinetic analysis of the Brd4-CDK9/cyclin T interaction. I show that C-terminal fragments of Brd4 enhance the in vitro kinase activity of CDK9/cyclin T against the Pol II CTD. Furthermore, I demonstrate that this enhancement may be inhibited by Plk1-mediated phosphorylation of Brd4. Finally, I show that Brd4 binds to a site that spans CDK9 and cyclin T and I propose detailed molecular models of the Brd4-cyclin T interaction.
Supervisor: Noble, Martin; Endicott, Jane Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Molecular biophysics (biochemistry) ; Biochemistry ; transcription ; cyclin dependent kinase ; phosphorylation