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Genetics. 1994 Apr;136(4):1287-96.

Identification of genes required for normal pheromone-induced cell polarization in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0448.


In response to mating pheromones, cells of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae adopt a polarized "shmoo" morphology, in which the cytoskeleton and proteins involved in mating are localized to a cell-surface projection. This polarization is presumed to reflect the oriented morphogenesis that occurs between mating partners to facilitate cell and nuclear fusion. To identify genes involved in pheromone-induced cell polarization, we have isolated mutants defective in mating to an enfeebled partner and studied a subset of these mutants. The 34 mutants of interest are proficient for pheromone production, arrest in response to pheromone, mate to wild-type strains, and exhibit normal cell polarity during vegetative growth. The mutants were divided into classes based on their morphological responses to mating pheromone. One class is unable to localize cell-surface growth in response to mating factor and instead enlarges in a uniform manner. These mutants harbor special alleles of genes required for cell polarization during vegetative growth, BEM1 and CDC24. Another class of mutants forms bilobed, peanut-like shapes when treated with pheromone and defines two genes, PEA1 and PEA2. PEA1 is identical to SPA2. A third class forms normally shaped but tiny shmoos and defines the gene TNY1. A final group of mutants exhibits apparently normal shmoo morphology. The nature of their mating defect is yet to be determined. We discuss the possible roles of these gene products in establishing cell polarity during mating.

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