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Keywords:

  • UTH1;
  • PKC1;
  • SUN genes;
  • cell wall biogenesis;
  • β-d-glucan;
  • chitin

Abstract

Deletion of the Saccharomyces gene, UTH1, a founding member of the SUN family of fungal genes, has pleiotropic effects. Several phenotypes of Δuth1 cells including their decreased levels of mitochondrial proteins, their impaired autophagic degradation of mitochondria, and their increased viability in the presence of mammalian BAX, a proapoptotic regulator localized to the mitochondria, have prompted others to propose that the Uth1p functions primarily at the mitochondria. In this report, we show that cells lacking UTH1 have more robust cell walls with higher levels of β-d-glucan that allows them to grow in the presence of calcofluor white or sodium dodecyl sulfate, two reagents known to perturb the yeast cell wall. Moreover, these Δuth1 cells are also significantly more resistant to spheroplast formation induced by zymolyase treatment than their wild-type counterparts. Surprisingly, our data suggest that several of the enhanced growth phenotypes of Δuth1 cells, including their resistance to BAX-mediated toxicity, arise from a strengthened cell wall. Therefore, we propose that Uth1p's role at the cell wall and not at the mitochondria may better explain many of its effects on yeast physiology and programmed cell death.