Maintenance of ion homeostatic mechanisms is essential for living cells, including the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Whereas the impact of changes in phosphate metabolism on metal ion homeostasis has been recently examined, the inverse effect is still largely unexplored. We show here that depletion of potassium from the medium or alteration of diverse regulatory pathways controlling potassium uptake, such as the Trk potassium transporters or the Pma1 H(+) -ATPase, triggers a response that mimics that of phosphate (Pi) deprivation, exemplified by accumulation of the high-affinity Pi transporter Pho84. This response is mediated by and requires the integrity of the PHO signaling pathway. Removal of potassium from the medium does not alter the amount of total or free intracellular Pi, but is accompanied by decreased ATP and ADP levels and rapid depletion of cellular polyphosphates. Therefore, our data do not support the notion of Pi being the major signaling molecule triggering phosphate-starvation responses. We also observe that cells with compromised potassium uptake cannot grow under limiting Pi conditions. The link between potassium and phosphate homeostasis reported here could explain the invasive phenotype, characteristic of nutrient deprivation, observed in potassium-deficient yeast cells.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.