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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Unexpected combinations of null mutations in genes encoding the actin cytoskeleton are lethal in yeast.

To understand the role of the actin cytoskeleton in cell physiology, and how actin-binding proteins regulate the actin cytoskeleton in vivo, we and others previously identified actin-binding proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and studied the effect of null mutations in the genes for these proteins. A null mutation of the actin gene (ACT1) is lethal, but null mutations in the tropomyosin (TPM1), fimbrin (SAC6), Abp1p (ABP1), and capping protein (CAP1 and CAP2) genes have relatively mild or no effects. We have now constructed double and triple mutants lacking 2 or 3 of these actin-binding proteins, and studied the effect of the combined mutations on cell growth, morphology, and organization of the actin cytoskeleton. Double mutants lacking fimbrin and either Abp1p or capping protein show negative synthetic effects on growth, in the most extreme case resulting in lethality. All other combinations of double mutations and the triple mutant lacking tropomyosin, Abp1p, and capping protein, are viable and their phenotypes are similar to or only slightly more severe than those of the single mutants. Therefore, the synthetic phenotypes are highly specific. We confirmed this specificity by overexpression of capping protein and Abp1p in strains lacking fimbrin. Thus, while overexpression of these proteins has deleterious effects on actin organization in wild-type strains, no synthetic phenotype was observed in the absence of fimbrin. We draw two important conclusions from these results. First, since mutations in pairs of actin-binding protein genes cause inviability, the actin cytoskeleton of yeast does not contain a high degree of redundancy. Second, the lack of structural and functional homology among these genetically redundant proteins (fimbrin and capping protein or Abp1p) indicates that they regulate the actin cytoskeleton by different mechanisms. Determination of the molecular basis for this surprising conclusion will provide unique insights into the essential mechanisms that regulate the actin cytoskeleton.[1]


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