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Open Access Research article

Guanylic nucleotide starvation affects Saccharomyces cerevisiae mother-daughter separation and may be a signal for entry into quiescence

Isabelle Sagot*, Jacques Schaeffer and Bertrand Daignan-Fornier

Author affiliations

Institut de Biochimie et Génétique Cellulaires, UMR CNRS 5095 – Université Victor Segalen / Bordeaux II 1, rue Camille Saint Saëns – F-33077 Bordeaux Cedex – France

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2005, 6:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-6-24

Published: 4 May 2005



Guanylic nucleotides are both macromolecules constituents and crucial regulators for a variety of cellular processes. Therefore, their intracellular concentration must be strictly controlled. Consistently both yeast and mammalian cells tightly correlate the transcription of genes encoding enzymes critical for guanylic nucleotides biosynthesis with the proliferation state of the cell population.


To gain insight into the molecular relationships connecting intracellular guanylic nucleotide levels and cellular proliferation, we have studied the consequences of guanylic nucleotide limitation on Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell cycle progression. We first utilized mycophenolic acid, an immunosuppressive drug that specifically inhibits inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase, the enzyme catalyzing the first committed step in de novo GMP biosynthesis. To approach this system physiologically, we next developed yeast mutants for which the intracellular guanylic nucleotide pools can be modulated through changes of growth conditions. In both the pharmacological and genetic approaches, we found that guanylic nucleotide limitation generated a mother-daughter separation defect, characterized by cells with two unseparated daughters. We then showed that this separation defect resulted from cell wall perturbations but not from impaired cytokinesis. Importantly, cells with similar separation defects were found in a wild type untreated yeast population entering quiescence upon nutrient limitation.


Our results demonstrate that guanylic nucleotide limitation slows budding yeast cell cycle progression, with a severe pause in telophase. At the cellular level, guanylic nucleotide limitation causes the emergence of cells with two unseparated daughters. By fluorescence and electron microscopy, we demonstrate that this phenotype arises from defects in cell wall partition between mother and daughter cells. Because cells with two unseparated daughters are also observed in a wild type population entering quiescence, our results reinforce the hypothesis that guanylic nucleotide intracellular pools contribute to a signal regulating both cell proliferation and entry into quiescence.