, Volume 258, Issue 6, pp 608-618

Phosphorylation of the pheromone-responsive Gβ protein of Saccharomyces cerevisiae does not affect its mating-specific signaling function

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The pheromone-responsive Gβ subunit of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (encoded by STE4) is rapidly phosphorylated at multiple sites when yeast cells are exposed to mating pheromone. It has been shown that a mutant form of Ste4 lacking residues 310–346, ste4Δ310–346, cannot be phosphorylated, and that its expression leads to defects in recovery from pheromone stimulation. Based on these observations, it was proposed that phosphorylation of Ste4 is associated with an adaptive response to mating pheromone. In this study we used site-directed mutagenesis to create two phosphorylation null (Pho) alleles of STE4: ste4-T320 A/S335A and ste4-T322 A/S335A and ste4-T322A/S335A. When expressed in yeast, these mutant forms of Ste4 remained unphosphorylated upon pheromone stimulation. The elimination of Ste4 phosphorylation has no discernible effect on either signaling or adaptation. In addition, disruption of the FUS3 gene, which encodes a pheromone-specific MAP kinase, leads to partial loss of pheromone-induced Ste4 phosphorylation. Two-hybrid analysis suggests that the ste4Δ310–346 deletion mutant is impaired in its interaction with Gpa1, the pheromone-responsive Gα of yeast, whereas the Ste4-T320A/S335A mutant has normal affinity for Gpa1. Taken together, these results indicate that pheromone-induced phosphorylation of Ste4 is not an adaptive mechanism, and that the adaptive defect exhibited by the 310–346 deletion mutant is likely to be due to disruption of the interaction between Ste4 and Gpa1.