The S. cerevisiae mating pheromone response pathway is arguably the best understood multi-tiered MAPK signaling cascade in any eukaryote. It is now appreciated, however, that coordinating the changes in gene expression and cell morphology necessary for mating involves an elaborate network of interlocking events, rather than a simple linear pathway. In addition, feedback mechanisms exist to modulate the efficiency and duration of these signaling events at essentially every step. Moreover, this signaling pathway must evoke an appropriate response upon the correct stimulus, yet avoid adventitious activation. Furthermore, it is now established that some components required for pheromone response are also utilized both for a different developmental outcome, termed filamentous/invasive growth (triggered by nutrient limitation) and for response to hyperosmotic stress. How different extracellular signals impinge on the same MAPK elements, yet are deciphered differently, is not fully understood in any organism. For all of these reasons, yeast continues to provide opportunities to examine basic properties of the organization, specificity, fidelity, regulation and function of MAPK signaling pathways, including how certain molecules that participate in signaling can be coupled to different upstream inputs and downstream responses in the same cell type.
Specific aims i nclude: (1) Further characterization of two pivotal scaffold proteins, Ste5 and Ste5O, including crystal structure determination and, in the case of Ste5, the mechanisms by which its RING-H2 domain contributes to oligomerization, intra- and intermolecular ubiquitinylation, interaction with Gbg (Ste4-Ste18) and other aspects of its function. (2) Further analysis of the function of plasma membrane phosphoinositides in the membrane recruitment of Ste5 (via its PH domain) and the Bem1 adaptor protein (via its PH domain). (3) Further development of a novel FRET-based reporter we devised recently to visualize spatiotemporal features of MAPK activation in real time in live cells. (4) Examination of the biochemical basis by which pheromone signaling affects normal septin filament assembly and interdicts cytokinesis. (5) Investigation of how the MAPK, Kss1, contributes to control of the apparent IRES elements in the transcripts for gene products required for invasive growth. (6) Determination at the molecular level of the mechanism by which the stress-activated MAPK, Hog1, blocks inappropriate activation of the other two pathways that utilize the same MAPKKK (Ste11). Public Health Relevance: The growth of many human tumor cells can be traced to mutations that lead directly to inappropriate and persistent MAPK activation. Thus, studying fundamental aspects of MAPK signaling may provide insights for the development of more effective anti-cancer therapies to ameliorate certain prevalent malignancies in people. ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
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Cellular Signaling and Dynamics Study Section (CSD)
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Anderson, Richard A
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University of California Berkeley
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