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Rif1 prolongs the embryonic S phase at the Drosophila mid-blastula transition.

  • Author(s): Seller, Charles A
  • O'Farrell, Patrick H
  • et al.

In preparation for dramatic morphogenetic events of gastrulation, rapid embryonic cell cycles slow at the mid-blastula transition (MBT). In Drosophila melanogaster embryos, down-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) activity initiates this slowing by delaying replication of heterochromatic satellite sequences and extending S phase. We found that Cdk1 activity inhibited the chromatin association of Rap1 interacting factor 1 (Rif1), a candidate repressor of replication. Furthermore, Rif1 bound selectively to satellite sequences following Cdk1 down-regulation at the MBT. In the next S phase, Rif1 dissociated from different satellites in an orderly schedule that anticipated their replication. Rif1 lacking potential phosphorylation sites failed to dissociate and dominantly prevented completion of replication. Loss of Rif1 in mutant embryos shortened the post-MBT S phase and rescued embryonic cell cycles disrupted by depletion of the S phase-promoting kinase, cell division cycle 7 (Cdc7). Our work shows that Rif1 and S phase kinases compose a replication timer controlling first the developmental onset of late replication and then the precise schedule of replication within S phase. In addition, we describe how onset of late replication fits into the progressive maturation of heterochromatin during development.

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