GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Molecular Genetics and Microbiology


Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

First Thesis Advisor

Duane D. Jenness, Ph.D.


Endocytosis, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal, Receptors, Mating Factor, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins


This study investigates endocytosis and ER export signals of the yeast α-factor receptor and the role that receptor oligomerization plays in these processes. The α-factor receptor contains signal sequences in the cytoplasmic C-terminal domain that are essential for ligand-mediated endocytosis. In an endocytosis complementation assay, I found that oligomeric complexes of the receptor undergo ligand-mediated endocytosis when the α-factor binding site and the endocytosis signal sequences are located in different receptors. Both in vitro and in vivo assays strongly suggested that ligand-induced conformational changes in one Ste2 subunit do not affect neighboring subunits. Therefore, the recognition of endocytosis signal sequence and the recognition of the ligand-induced conformational change are likely to be two independent events, where the signal sequence plays only a passive role in the ligand-induced endocytosis. Four amino acid substitutions (C59R, H94P, S141P and S145P) in TM domains I, II and III were identified that resulted in the accumulation of truncated receptors in the ER but did not block ER export of full-length receptors. The two DXE motifs in the C-terminal tail were required for export of the mutant receptors from the ER; however DXE was not essential for proper cell surface expression of wild-type receptors apparently because the receptors contain redundant ER export signals. An assay for oligomerization of receptors in the ER was developed based on the ability of truncated mutant receptors to exit the ER. The four substitutions (C59R, H94P, S141P and S145P) that caused DXE-dependent ER export failed to form homo-oligomers, suggesting that the DXE motifs and receptor oligomerization serve as independent ER export signals. Consistent with this view, two of the substitutions (S141P and S145P), when coexpressed, with wild-type receptors, formed hetero-oligomers that exited the ER. Finally, the full-length oligomer-defective mutant Ste2-S141P was sensitive to α-factor, suggesting that receptor monomers that reach the cell surface are able to activate the heterotrimeric G protein. The potential roles that TM1, 2 and 3 play in receptor oligomerization are discussed.


Figure 6.3 courtesy of D. Fotiadis and originally published in FEBS Letters 564:281 (2004).



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