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The HOG/p38 MAP kinase route is an important stress-activated signal transduction pathway that is well conserved among eukaryotes. Here, we describe a novel mechanism of activation of the HOG pathway in budding yeast. This mechanism operates upon severe osmostress conditions (1.4 M NaCl) and is independent of the Sln1p and Sho1p osmosensors. The alternative input feeds into the HOG pathway MAPKK Pbs2p and requires activation of Pbs2p by phosphorylation. We show that, upon severe osmotic shock, Hog1p nuclear accumulation and phosphorylation is delayed compared with mild stress. Moreover, both events lost their transient pattern, presumably because of the absence of negative feedback mediated by Ptp2p tyrosine phosphatase, which we found to be localized in the nucleus. Under severe osmotic stress conditions, the delayed nuclear accumulation correlates with a delay in stress-responsive gene expression. Severe osmoshock leads to a situation in which active and nuclear-localized Hog1p is transiently unable to induce transcription of osmotic stress-responsive genes. It also appeared from our studies that the Sho1p osmosensor is less active under severe osmotic stress conditions, whereas the Sln1p/Ypd1p/Ssk1p sensor and signal transducer functions normally under these circumstances.