Elimination of defective alpha-factor pheromone receptors

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


This report compares trafficking routes of a plasma membrane protein that was misfolded either during its synthesis or after it had reached the cell surface. A temperature-sensitive mutant form of the yeast alpha-factor pheromone receptor (ste2-3) was found to provide a model substrate for quality control of plasma membrane proteins. We show for the first time that a misfolded membrane protein is recognized at the cell surface and rapidly removed. When the ste2-3 mutant cells were cultured continuously at 34 degrees C, the mutant receptor protein (Ste2-3p) failed to accumulate at the plasma membrane and was degraded with a half-life of 4 min, compared with a half-life of 33 min for wild-type receptor protein (Ste2p). Degradation of both Ste2-3p and Ste2p required the vacuolar proteolytic activities controlled by the PEP4 gene. At 34 degrees C, Ste2-3p comigrated with glycosylated Ste2p on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, indicating that Ste2-3p enters the secretory pathway. Degradation of Ste2-3p did not require delivery to the plasma membrane as the sec1 mutation failed to block rapid turnover. Truncation of the C-terminal cytoplasmic domain of the mutant receptors did not permit accumulation at the plasma membrane; thus, the endocytic signals contained in this domain are unnecessary for intracellular retention. In the pep4 mutant, Ste2-3p accumulated as series of high-molecular-weight species, suggesting a potential role for ubiquitin in the elimination process. When ste2-3 mutant cells were cultured continuously at 22 degrees C, Ste2-3p accumulated in the plasma membrane. When the 22 degrees C culture was shifted to 34 degrees C, Ste2-3p was removed from the plasma membrane and degraded by a PEP4-dependent mechanism with a 24-min half-life; the wild-type Ste2p displayed a 72-min half-life. Thus, structural defects in Ste2-3p synthesized at 34 degrees C are recognized in transit to the plasma membrane, leading to rapid degradation, and Ste2-3p that is preassembled at the plasma membrane is also removed and degraded following a shift to 34 degrees C.

DOI of Published Version



Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Nov;17(11):6236-45.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Molecular and cellular biology

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID