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A family of structurally-related cyclin-dependent protein kinases (CDKs) drives many aspects of eukaryotic cell function. Much of the literature in this area has considered individual members of this family to act primarily either as regulators of the cell cycle, the context in which CDKs were first discovered, or as regulators of transcription. Until recently, CDK7 was the only clear example of a CDK that functions in both processes. However, new data points to several ‘cell-cycle’ CDKs having important roles in transcription and some ‘transcriptional’ CDKs having cell cycle-related targets. For example, novel functions in transcription have been demonstrated for the archetypal cell-cycle regulator CDK1. The increasing evidence of the overlap between these two CDK types suggests that they might play a critical role in coordinating the two processes. Here we review the canonical functions of cell-cycle and transcriptional CDKs, and provide an update on how these kinases collaborate to perform important cellular functions. We also provide a brief overview of how dysregulation of CDKs contributes to carcinogenesis, and possible treatment avenues.


Journal article


Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: RNA



Publication Date



Shona Murphy, University of Oxford, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RE, United Kingdom