Regulation of G protein-initiated signal transduction in yeast: paradigms and principles

Annu Rev Biochem. 2001;70:703-54. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.70.1.703.


All cells have the capacity to evoke appropriate and measured responses to signal molecules (such as peptide hormones), environmental changes, and other external stimuli. Tremendous progress has been made in identifying the proteins that mediate cellular response to such signals and in elucidating how events at the cell surface are linked to subsequent biochemical changes in the cytoplasm and nucleus. An emerging area of investigation concerns how signaling components are assembled and regulated (both spatially and temporally), so as to control properly the specificity and intensity of a given signaling pathway. A related question under intensive study is how the action of an individual signaling pathway is integrated with (or insulated from) other pathways to constitute larger networks that control overall cell behavior appropriately. This review describes the signal transduction pathway used by budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to respond to its peptide mating pheromones. This pathway is comprised by receptors, a heterotrimeric G protein, and a protein kinase cascade all remarkably similar to counterparts in multicellular organisms. The primary focus of this review, however, is recent advances that have been made, using primarily genetic methods, in identifying molecules responsible for regulation of the action of the components of this signaling pathway. Just as many of the constituent proteins of this pathway and their interrelationships were first identified in yeast, the functions of some of these regulators have clearly been conserved in metazoans, and others will likely serve as additional models for molecules that carry out analogous roles in higher organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • GTP-Binding Protein beta Subunits*
  • GTP-Binding Protein gamma Subunits*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Heterotrimeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Pheromones / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Yeasts / genetics
  • Yeasts / metabolism*


  • Fungal Proteins
  • GTP-Binding Protein beta Subunits
  • GTP-Binding Protein gamma Subunits
  • Pheromones
  • STE18 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Ste4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Heterotrimeric GTP-Binding Proteins