Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) are the main regulators of cell cycle progression in eukaryotes. The role and regulation of canonical CDKs, such as the yeast ( Saccharomyces cerevisiae ) Cdc2 or plant CDKA, have been extensively characterized. However, the function of the plant-specific CDKB is not as well understood. Besides being involved in cell cycle control, Arabidopsis ( Arabidopsis thaliana ) CDKB would integrate developmental processes to cell cycle progression. We investigated the role of CDKB in Ostreococcus ( Ostreococcus tauri ), a unicellular green algae with a minimal set of cell cycle genes. In this primitive alga, at the basis of the green lineage, CDKB has integrated two levels of regulations: It is regulated by Tyr phosphorylation like cdc2/CDKA and at the level of synthesis-like B-type CDKs. Furthermore, Ostreococcus CDKB/cyclin B accounts for the main peak of mitotic activity, and CDKB is able to rescue a yeast cdc28 ts mutant. By contrast, Ostreococcus CDKA is not regulated by Tyr phosphorylation, and it exhibits a low and steady-state activity from DNA replication to exit of mitosis. This suggests that from a major role in the control of mitosis in green algae, CDKB has evolved in higher plants to assume other functions outside the cell cycle.
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