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Mol Cell Biol. 1993 September; 13(9): 5567–5581.
PMCID: PMC360278

Regulation of dimorphism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: involvement of the novel protein kinase homolog Elm1p and protein phosphatase 2A.


The Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes ELM1, ELM2, and ELM3 were identified on the basis of the phenotype of constitutive cell elongation. Mutations in any of these genes cause a dimorphic transition to a pseudohyphal growth state characterized by formation of expanded, branched chains of elongated cells. Furthermore, elm1, elm2, and elm3 mutations cause cells to grow invasively under the surface of agar medium. S. cerevisiae is known to be a dimorphic organism that grows either as a unicellular yeast or as filamentous cells termed pseudohyphae; although the yeast-like form usually prevails, pseudohyphal growth may occur during conditions of nitrogen starvation. The morphologic and physiological properties caused by elm1, elm2, and elm3 mutations closely mimic pseudohyphal growth occurring in conditions of nitrogen starvation. Therefore, we propose that absence of ELM1, ELM2, or ELM3 function causes constitutive execution of the pseudohyphal differentiation pathway that occurs normally in conditions of nitrogen starvation. Supporting this hypothesis, heterozygosity at the ELM2 or ELM3 locus significantly stimulated the ability to form pseudohyphae in response to nitrogen starvation. ELM1 was isolated and shown to code for a novel protein kinase homolog. Gene dosage experiments also showed that pseudohyphal differentiation in response to nitrogen starvation is dependent on the product of CDC55, a putative B regulatory subunit of protein phosphatase 2A, and a synthetic phenotype was observed in elm1 cdc55 double mutants. Thus, protein phosphorylation is likely to regulate differentiation into the pseudohyphal state.

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