Dynamics and organization of MAP kinase signal pathways

Mol Reprod Dev. 1995 Dec;42(4):477-85. doi: 10.1002/mrd.1080420416.


In the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, four separate but structurally related mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation pathways are known. The best understood of these regulates mating. Pheromone binding to receptor informs cells of the proximity of a mating partner and induces differentiation to a mating competent state. The MAPK activation cascade mediating this signal is made up of Ste11 (a MEK kinase [MEKK]), Ste7 (a MAPK/ERK kinase [MEK]), and the redundant MAPK-related Fus3 and Kss1 enzymes. Another MAPK activation pathway is important for cell integrity and regulates cell wall construction. This cascade consists of Bck1 (a MEKK), the redundant Mkk1 and Mkk2 enzymes (MEKs), and Mpk1 (a MAPK). We exploited these two pathways to learn about the coordination and signal transmission fidelity of MAPK activation cascades. Two lines of evidence suggest that the activities of the mating and cell integrity pathways are coordinated during mating differentiation. First, cells deficient in Mpk1 are susceptible to lysis when they make a mating projection in response to pheromone. Second, Mpk1 activation during pheromone induction coincides with projection formation. The mechanism underlying this coordination is still unknown to us. Our working model is that projection formation generates a mobile second messenger for activation of the cell integrity pathway. Analysis of a STE7 mutation gave us some unanticipated but important insights into parameters important for fidelity of signal transmission. The Ste7 variant has a serine to proline substitution at position 368. Ste7-P368 has higher basal activity than the wild-type enzyme but still requires Ste11 for its function. Additionally, the proline substitution enables the variant to transmit the signal from mammalian Raf expressed in yeast. This novel activity suggests that Ste7-P368 is inherently more permissive than Ste7 in its interactions with MEKKs. Yet, Ste7-P368 cross function in the cell integrity pathway occurs only when it is highly overproduced or when Ste5 is missing. This behavior suggests that Ste5, which has been proposed to be a tether for the kinases in the mating pathway, contributes to Ste7 specificity and fidelity of signal transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases