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Eukaryot Cell. 2013 Sep;12(9):1235-43. doi: 10.1128/EC.00109-13. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Synchronous activation of cell division by light or temperature stimuli in the dimorphic yeast Schizosaccharomyces japonicus.

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Microbial Genetics Laboratory, Genetic Strains Research Center, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Shizuoka, Japan.


Many fungi respond to light and regulate fungal development and behavior. A blue light-activated complex has been identified in Neurospora crassa as the product of the wc-1 and wc-2 genes. Orthologs of WC-1 and WC-2 have hitherto been found only in filamentous fungi and not in yeast, with the exception of the basidiomycete pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus. Here, we report that the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces japonicus responds to blue light depending on Wcs1 and Wcs2, orthologs of components of the WC complex. Surprisingly, those of ascomycete S. japonicus are more closely related to those of the basidiomycete. S. japonicus reversibly changes from yeast to hyphae in response to environmental stresses. After incubation at 30°C, a colony of yeast was formed, and then hyphal cells extended from the periphery of the colony. When light cycles were applied, distinct dark- and bright-colored hyphal cell stripes were formed because the growing hyphal cells had synchronously activated cytokinesis. In addition, temperature cycles of 30°C for 12 h and 35°C for 12 h or of 25°C for 12 h and 30°C for 12 h during incubation in the dark induced a response in the hyphal cells similar to that of light. The stripe formation of the temperature cycles was independent of the wcs genes. Both light and temperature, which are daily external cues, have the same effect on growing hyphal cells. A dual sensing mechanism of external cues allows organisms to adapt to daily changes of environmental alteration.

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