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Mol Cell Biol. 1993 Jun;13(6):3765-72.

Functional domains of the yeast STE12 protein, a pheromone-responsive transcriptional activator.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794-5222.


The pheromone response pathway of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is necessary for the basal level of transcription of cell-type-specific genes, as well as the induced level observed after pheromone treatment. The STE12 protein binds to the DNA sequence designated the pheromone response element and is a target of the pheromone-induced signal. We generated 6-nucleotide linker insertion mutants, internal-deletion mutants, and carboxy-terminal truncation mutants of STE12 and assayed them for their ability to restore mating and transcriptional activity to a ste12 delta strain. Two of these mutant proteins retain the capacity to mediate basal transcription but show little or no induced transcription upon pheromone treatment. Cells producing these proteins cannot mate, formally demonstrating that the ability to respond to pheromone by increasing gene expression is essential for the mating process. Since distinct domains of STE12 appear to be required for basal versus induced transcription, we suggest that the pheromone-induced signal is likely to target residues of the protein different from those targeted by the basal signal because of the constitutive activity of the response pathway. Our analysis of mutant STE12 proteins also indicates that only the DNA-binding domain is sensitive to the small changes caused by the linker insertions. In addition, we show that, while the carboxy-terminal sequences necessary for STE12 to form a complex with the transcription factor MCM1 are not essential for mating, these sequences are required for optimal transcriptional activity.

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