, Volume 241, Issue 1-2, pp 177-184

Activity of the yeast MAP kinase homologue Slt2 is critically required for cell integrity at 37° C

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Deletion of the SLT2 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which codes for a homologue of MAP (mitogen-activated) protein kinases, causes an autolytic lethal phenotype in cells grown at 37° C. The gene encodes domains characteristic of protein kinases, which include a lysine (at position 54) that lies 19 residues from a glycine-rich cluster, considered to be the putative ATP binding site. The ability of three mutant alleles of SLT2 generated by site-directed mutagenesis, namely E54 (glutamic acid), R54 (arginine) and F54 (phenylalanine), to complement slt2 mutants was tested. All three failed to complement the autolytic phenotype and were unable to restore growth and viability of cells. A strain obtained by transplacement of slt2-F54 also behaved as a thermosensitive autolytic mutant. By immunoprecipitation with polyclonal antibodies raised against Slt2 protein expressed in Escherichia coli, it was possible to confirm that alteration of the lysine-54 residue did not affect the stability of the protein, thus allowing us to conclude that activity of the Slt2 protein kinase is critically required for growth and morphogenesis of S. cerevisiae at 37° C. A significant fraction of the mutant cell population lysed at 24° C and the cells displayed a characteristic alteration of the surface consisting of a typical depression in an area of the cell wall. At 37° C, the cell surface was clearly disorganized.