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Annu Rev Biochem. 1998;67:307-33.

Role of small G proteins in yeast cell polarization and wall biosynthesis.

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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


In the vegetative (mitotic) cycle and during sexual conjugation, yeast cells display polarized growth, giving rise to a bud or to a mating projection, respectively. In both cases one can distinguish three steps in these processes: choice of a growth site, organization of the growth site, and actual growth and morphogenesis. In all three steps, small GTP-binding proteins (G proteins) and their regulators play essential signaling functions. For the choice of a bud site, Bud1, a small G protein, Bud2, a negative regulator of Bud1, and Bud5, an activator, are all required. If any of them is defective, the cell loses its ability to select a proper bud position and buds randomly. In the organization of the bud site or of the site in which a mating projection appears, Cdc42, its activator Cdc24, and its negative regulators play a fundamental role. In the absence of Cdc42 or Cdc24, the actin cytoskeleton does not become organized and budding does not take place. Finally, another small G protein, Rho1, is required for activity of beta (1-->3)glucan synthase, the enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of the major structural component of the yeast cell wall. In all of the above processes, G proteins can work as molecular switches because of their ability to shift between an active GTP-bound state and an inactive GDP-bound state.

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