Genetic analysis of default mating behavior in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Genetics, Volume 146, Issue 1, p.39-55 (1997)


DNA-Binding Proteins, Genes, Fungal, Mutation, Repressor Proteins, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins, TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS


Haploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells find each other during conjugation by orienting their growth toward each other along pheromone gradients (chemotropism). However, when their receptors are saturated for pheromone binding, yeast cells must select a mate by executing a default pathway in which they choose a mating partner at random. We previously demonstrated that this default pathway requires the SPA2 gene. In this report we show that the default mating pathway also requires the AXL1, FUS1, FUS2, FUS3, PEA2, RVS161, and BNI1 genes. These genes, including SPA2, are also important for efficient cell fusion during chemotropic mating. Cells containing null mutations in these genes display defects in cell fusion that subtly affect mating efficiency. In addition, we found that the defect in default mating caused by mutations in SPA2 is partially suppressed by multiple copies of two genes, FUS2 and MFA2. These findings uncover a molecular relationship between default mating and cell fusion. Moreover, because axl1 mutants secrete reduced levels of a-factor and are defective at both cell fusion and default mating, these results reveal an important role for a-factor in cell fusion and default mating. We suggest that default mating places a more stringent requirement on some aspects of cell fusion than does chemotropic mating.