Kel1p Mediates Yeast Cell Fusion Through a Fus2p- and Cdc42p-Dependent Mechanism.
Cell fusion is ubiquitous among eukaryotes. Although little is known about the molecular mechanism, several proteins required for cell fusion in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been identified. Fus2p, a key regulator of cell fusion, localizes to the shmoo tip in a highly regulated manner. C-terminal truncations of Fus2p cause mislocalization and fusion defects, which are suppressed by overexpression of Kel1p, a kelch-domain protein of unknown function previously implicated in cell fusion. We hypothesize that Fus2p mislocalization is caused by auto-inhibition, which is alleviated by Kel1p overexpression. Previous work showed that Fus2p localization is mediated by both Fus1p- and actin-dependent pathways. We show that the C-terminal mutations mainly affect the actin-dependent pathway. Suppression of the Fus2p localization defect by Kel1p is dependent upon Fus1p, showing that suppression does not bypass the normal pathway. Kel1p and a homolog, Kel2p, are required for efficient Fus2p localization, acting through the actin-dependent pathway. Although Kel1p overexpression can weakly suppress the mating defect of a FUS2 deletion, the magnitude of suppression is allele specific. Therefore, Kel1p augments, but does not bypass, Fus2p function. Fus2p mediates cell fusion by binding activated Cdc42p Although Kel1p overexpression suppresses a Cdc42p mutant that is defective for Fus2p binding, cell fusion remains dependent upon Fus2p These data suggest that Fus2p, Cdc42p, and Kel1p form a ternary complex, which is stabilized by Kel1p Supporting this hypothesis, Kel1p interacts with two domains of Fus2p, partially dependent on Cdc42p We conclude that Kel1p enhances the activity of Fus2p/Cdc42p in cell fusion.