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Functional homology of protein kinases required for sexual differentiation in Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Saccharomyces cerevisiae suggests a conserved signal transduction module in eukaryotic organisms

Authors
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Saccharomyces
  • Kinase
  • Protein Characterization
Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

We present genetic evidence that three presumptive protein kinases of Schizosaccharomyces pombe, byr2, byr1, and spk1 that are structurally related to protein kinases of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, STE11, STE7, and FUS3, respectively, are also functionally related. In some cases, introduction of the heterologous protein kinase into a mutant was sufficient for complementation. In other cases (as in a ste11- mutant of S. cerevisiae), expression of two S. pombe protein kinases (byr2 and byr1) was required to observe complementation, suggesting that byr2 and byr1 act cooperatively. Complementation in S. pombe mutants is observed as restoration of sporulation and conjugation and in S. cerevisiae as restoration of conjugation, pheromone-induced cell cycle arrest, and pheromone-induced transcription of the FUS1 gene. We also show that the S. pombe kinases bear a similar relationship to the mating pheromone receptor apparatus as do their S. cerevisiae counterparts. Our results indicate that pheromone-induced signal transduction employs a conserved set of kinases in these two evolutionarily distant yeasts despite an apparently significant difference in function of the heterotrimeric G proteins. We suggest that the STE11/byr2, STE7/byr1, and FUS3/spk1 kinases comprise a signal transduction module that may be conserved in higher eukaryotes. Consistent with this hypothesis, we show that a mammalian mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase, ERK2, can partially replace spk1 function in S. pombe.

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