Genome-wide identification of pheromone-targeted transcrption in fission yeast

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Fission yeast cells undergo sexual differentiation in response to nitrogen starvation. In this process haploid M and P cells first mate to form diploid zygotes, which then enter meiosis and sporulate. Prior to mating, M and P cells communicate with diffusible mating pheromones that activate a signal transduction pathway in the opposite cell type. The pheromone signalling orchestrates mating and is also required for entry into meiosis.


Here we use DNA microarrays to identify genes that are induced by M-factor in P cells and by P-factor in M-cells. The use of a cyr1 genetic background allowed us to study pheromone signalling independently of nitrogen starvation. We identified a total of 163 genes that were consistently induced more than two-fold by pheromone stimulation. Gene disruption experiments demonstrated the involvement of newly discovered pheromone-induced genes in the differentiation process. We have mapped Gene Ontology (GO) categories specifically associated with pheromone induction. A direct comparison of the M- and P-factor induced expression pattern allowed us to identify cell-type specific transcripts, including three new M-specific genes and one new P-specific gene.


We found that the pheromone response was very similar in M and P cells. Surprisingly, pheromone control extended to genes fulfilling their function well beyond the point of entry into meiosis, including numerous genes required for meiotic recombination. Our results suggest that the Ste11 transcription factor is responsible for the majority of pheromone-induced transcription. Finally, most cell-type specific genes now appear to be identified in fission yeast.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Genomics
Pages (from-to)303
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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