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J Biol Chem. 2000 Mar 10;275(10):6707-11.

Cell division regulation by BIR1, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis family in yeast.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06536, USA.


The inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) gene family comprises molecules that block the activity of pro-apoptotic caspase proteases. Paradoxically, yeasts contain IAP proteins but no caspases and no apoptotic program. To determine the function of these proteins in vivo, we disrupted the BIR1 gene, encoding the only known IAP in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Sporulation of heterozygous diploids yielded no viable mutant haploids, indicating that BIR1 is an essential gene. By flow cytometry, some heterozygous mutants were polyploid accumulating >4 N DNA content. These cells exhibited a 20-40% reduction in growth rate, which was rescued by plasmid-borne over-expression of BIR1 but not by its human counterpart, survivin. Deletion analysis revealed that the N-terminal domain of Bir1, containing the conserved baculovirus IAP repeat, was able to partially complement the cell growth defect caused by BIR1 deletion. Moreover, the full-length and truncated forms of Bir1 accelerated cell division in wild-type cells. Finally, BIR1 heterozygous mutants exhibited grossly altered cell morphology with misshapen or abnormally long buds connected to an unusually large mother cell. These findings identify a novel function of IAP proteins in the pleiotropic control of cell division, in addition to their role in the suppression of apoptosis.

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