Inhibitory GEF phosphorylation provides negative feedback in the yeast polarity circuit

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Cell polarity is critical for the form and function of many cell types. During polarity establishment, cells define a cortical "front" that behaves differently from the rest of the cortex. The front accumulates high levels of the active form of a polarity-determining Rho-family GTPase (Cdc42, Rac, or Rop) that then orients cytoskeletal elements through various effectors to generate the polarized morphology appropriate to the particular cell type [1, 2]. GTPase accumulation is thought to involve positive feedback, such that active GTPase promotes further delivery and/or activation of more GTPase in its vicinity [3]. Recent studies suggest that once a front forms, the concentration of polarity factors at the front can increase and decrease periodically, first clustering the factors at the cortex and then dispersing them back to the cytoplasm [4-7]. Such oscillatory behavior implies the presence of negative feedback in the polarity circuit [8], but the mechanism of negative feedback was not known. Here we show that, in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the catalytic activity of the Cdc42-directed GEF is inhibited by Cdc42-stimulated effector kinases, thus providing negative feedback. We further show that replacing the GEF with a phosphosite mutant GEF abolishes oscillations and leads to the accumulation of excess GTP-Cdc42 and other polarity factors at the front. These findings reveal a mechanism for negative feedback and suggest that the function of negative feedback via GEF inhibition is to buffer the level of Cdc42 at the polarity site. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.




Kuo, C. C., Savage, N. S., Chen, H., Wu, C. F., Zyla, T. R., & Lew, D. J. (2014). Inhibitory GEF phosphorylation provides negative feedback in the yeast polarity circuit. Current Biology, 24(7), 753–759.

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