CELL polarization requires that a cellular axis or cell-surface site be chosen and that the cytoskeleton be organized with respect to it. Details of the link between the cytoskeleton and the chosen axis or site are not clear 1. Cells of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae exhibit cell polarization in two phases of their life cycle, during vegetative growth and during mating, which reflects responses to intracellular and extracellular signals, respectively. Here we describe the isolation of two mutants defective specifically in cell polarization in response to peptide mating pheromones. The mutants carry special alleles (denoted bem1-s) of the BEM1 gene required for cell polarization during vegetative growth2,3. Unlike other beml mutants, the bem1-s mutants are normal for vegetative growth. Complete deletion of BEM1 leads to the defect in polarization of vegetative cells seen in beml mutants23. The predicted sequence of the BEM1 protein (Bem1p) reveals two copies of a domain (denoted SH3) that is found in many proteins associated with the cortical cytoskeleton and which may mediate binding to actin or some other component of the cell cortex4,5. The sequence of Bemlp and the properties of mutants defective in this protein indicate that it may link the cytoskeleton to morphogenetic determinants on the cell surface.
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