Membrane-displayed peptide ligand activates the pheromone response pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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The budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is an attractive host for studying G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). We developed a system in which a peptide ligand specific for GPCR is displayed on yeast plasma membrane. The model system described here is based on yeast plasma membrane display of an analogue of α-factor, which is a peptide ligand for Ste2p, the GPCR that activates the yeast pheromone response pathway. α-Factor analogues, containing linkers of varying lengths and produced in yeast cells, became attached to the cell plasma membrane by linking to the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored plasma membrane protein Yps1p. We were able to demonstrate that an optimized α-factor analogue activated the pheromone response pathway in S. cerevisiae, as assessed by a fluorescent reporter assay. Furthermore, it was shown that linker length strongly influenced signalling pathway activation. To our knowledge, this is the first report documenting functional signalling by a plasma membrane-displayed ligand in S. cerevisiae.

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