14-3-3 proteins form a family of highly conserved proteins which are present in all eukaryotic organisms investigated, often in multiple isoforms, up to 13 in some plants. They interact with more than 200 different, mostly phosphorylated proteins. The molecular consequences of 14-3-3 binding are diverse: this binding may result in stabilization of the active or inactive phosphorylated form of the protein, to a conformational alteration leading to activation or inhibition, to a different subcellular localization, to the interaction with other proteins or to shielding of binding sites. The binding partners, and hence the 14-3-3 proteins, are involved in almost every cellular process and 14-3-3 proteins have been linked to several diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, the neurological Miller-Dieker and spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 diseases and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe both have two genes encoding 14-3-3 proteins, BMH1 and BMH2 and rad24 and rad25, respectively. In these yeasts, 14-3-3 proteins are essential in most laboratory strains. As in higher eukaryotes, yeast 14-3-3 proteins bind to numerous proteins involved in a variety of cellular processes. Recent genome-wide studies on yeast strains with impaired 14-3-3 function support the participation of 14-3-3 proteins in numerous yeast cellular processes. Given the high evolutionary conservation of the 14-3-3 proteins, the experimental accessibility and relative simplicity of yeasts make them excellent model organisms for elucidating the function of the 14-3-3 protein family.
Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.