Ime2 of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae belongs to a family of conserved protein kinases displaying sequence similarities to both cyclin-dependent kinases and mitogen-activated protein kinases. Ime2 has a pivotal role for meiosis and sporulation. The involvement of this protein kinase in the regulation of various key events in meiosis, such as the initiation of DNA replication, the expression of meiosis-specific genes and the passage through the two consecutive rounds of nuclear divisions has been characterized in detail. More than 20 years after the identification of the IME2 gene, a recent report has provided the first evidence for a function of this gene outside of meiosis, which is the regulation of pseudohyphal growth. In the last few years, Ime2-related protein kinases from various fungal species were studied. Remarkably, these homologues are not generally required for meiosis, but instead have other specific tasks. In filamentous ascomycete species, Ime2 homologues are involved in the inhibition of fruiting body formation in response to environmental signals. In the pathogenic basidiomycetes Ustilago maydis and Cryptococcus neoformans, members of this kinase family apparently have primary roles in regulating mating. Thus, Ime2-related kinases exhibit an amazing variety in controlling sexual developmental programs in fungi.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.