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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2002 Dec;66(12):2663-72.

His-to-Asp phosphorelay circuitry for regulation of sexual development in Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

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Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, School of Agriculture, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan.


The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe has three histidine kinases (Phk1/Mak2, Phk2/Mak3, and Phk3/Mak1), and two response regulators (Mcs4 and Prr1). The results of recent extensive studies on the S. pombe His-to-Asp phosphorelay circuitry suggested that it is involved in oxidative stress responses through the transcriptional regulation of several scavenger genes for toxic free radicals. The functions of these histidine kinases have not yet been fully characterized. Here we characterize a homothallic (h90) mutant lacking the genes for all the histidine kinases, with special reference to sexual development. Homothallic phk1/2/3delta cells underwent mating precociously in a nitrogen-deficient medium. Surprisingly, the mutant cells underwent mating even in a nitrogen-sufficient medium, under which conditions wild-type cells did so rarely if at all. Under anaerobic (or microaerobic) growth conditions, wild-type cells did not undergo sexual development even in a nitrogen-deficient medium, but the homothallic phk1/2/3delta cells mated efficiently. Oxidative reagents such as H2O2 induced sexual development in wild-type cells grown anaerobically. On the basis of these results, we propose the novel view that the S. pombe His-to-Asp phosphorelay, initiated by the Phk histidine kinases, is crucial for regulation of sexual development. This Phk-mediated signaling pathway is linked to the well-documented canonical pathway for induction of the sexual development, in that both converge at the initiation of meiosis through activation of ste11+, mam2+, and mei2+ transcription.

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