, Volume 244, Issue 5, pp 456-464

Theste13 + gene encoding a putative RNA helicase is essential for nitrogen starvation-induced G1 arrest and initiation of sexual development in the fission yeastSchizosaccharomyces pombe

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When the fission yeastSchizosaccharomyces pombe is starved for nitrogen, the cells are arrested in the G1 phase, enter the G0 phase and initiate sexual development. Theste13 mutant, however, fails to undergo a G1 arrest when starved for nitrogen and since this mutant phenotype is not suppressed by a mutation in adenylyl cyclase (cyr1), it would appear thatste13 + either acts independently of the decrease in the cellular cAMP level induced by starvation for nitrogen, or functions downstream of this controlling event. We have used functional complementation to clone theste13 + gene from anS. pombe genomic library and show that its disruption is not lethal, indicating that, while the gene is required for sexual development, it is not essential for cell growth. Nucleotide sequencing predicts thatste13 + should encode a protein of 485 amino acids in which the consensus motifs of ATP-dependent RNA helicases of the DEAD box family are completely conserved. Point mutations introduced into these consensus motifs abolished theste13 + functions. The predicted Ste13 protein is 72% identical to theDrosophila melanogaster Me31B protein over a stretch of 391 amino acids. ME31B is a developmentally regulated gene that is expressed preferentially in the female germline and may be required for oogenesis. Expression of ME31B cDNA inS. pombe suppresses theste13 mutation. These two evolutionarily conserved genes encoding putative RNA helicases may play a pivotal role in sexual development.

Communicated by K. Isono