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Open Access Research article

The pheromone-induced nuclear accumulation of the Fus3 MAPK in yeast depends on its phosphorylation state and on Dig1 and Dig2

Ernest Blackwell, Hye-Jin N Kim and David E Stone*

Author affiliations

Laboratory for Molecular Biology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2007, 8:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-8-44

Published: 26 October 2007

Abstract

Background

Like mammalian MAP kinases, the mating-specific Fus3 MAPK of yeast accumulates in the nuclei of stimulated cells. Because Fus3 does not appear to be subjected to active nucleo-cytoplasmic transport, it is not clear how its activation by mating pheromone effects the observed change in its localization. One possibility is that the activation of Fus3 changes its affinity for nuclear and cytoplasmic tethers.

Results

Dig1, Dig2, and Ste12 are nuclear proteins that interact with Fus3. We found that the pheromone-induced nuclear accumulation of a Fus3-GFP reporter is reduced in cells lacking Dig1 or Dig2, whereas Fus3T180AY182A-GFP localization was unaffected by the absence of these proteins. This suggests that Dig1 and Dig2 contribute to the retention of phosphorylated Fus3 in the nucleus. Moreover, overexpression of Ste12 caused the hyper-accumulation of Fus3-GFP (but not Fus3T180AY182A-GFP) in the nuclei of pheromone-treated cells, suggesting that Ste12 also plays a role in the nuclear retention of phosphorylated Fus3, either by directly interacting with it or by transcribing genes whose protein products are Fus3 tethers. We have previously reported that overexpression of the Msg5 phosphatase inhibits the nuclear localization of Fus3. Here we show that this effect depends on the phosphatase activity of Msg5, and provide evidence that both nuclear and cytoplasmic Msg5 can affect the localization of Fus3.

Conclusion

Our data are consistent with a model in which the pheromone-induced phosphorylation of Fus3 increases its affinity for nuclear tethers, which contributes to its nuclear accumulation and is antagonized by Msg5.