, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 267-278

Disentangling signaling gradients generated by equivalent sources

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Yeast cells approach a mating partner by polarizing along a gradient of mating pheromones that are secreted by cells of the opposite mating type. The Bar1 protease is secreted by a-cells and, paradoxically, degrades the α-factor pheromones which are produced by cells of the opposite mating type and trigger mating in a-cells. This degradation may assist in the recovery from pheromone signaling but has also been shown to play a positive role in mating. Previous studies suggested that widely diffusing protease can bias the pheromone gradient towards the closest secreting cell. Here, we show that restricting the Bar1 protease to the secreting cell itself, preventing its wide diffusion, facilitates discrimination between equivalent mating partners. This may be mostly relevant during spore germination, where most mating events occur in nature.