Combination of two activating mutations in one HOG1 gene forms hyperactive enzymes that induce growth arrest

Gilad Yaakov, Michal Bell, Stefan Hohmann, David Engelberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) play key roles in differentiation, growth, proliferation, and apoptosis. Although MAPKs have been extensively studied, the precise function, specific substrates, and target genes of each MAPK are not known. These issues could be addressed by sole activation of a given MAPK, e.g., through the use of constitutively active MAPK enzymes. We have recently reported the isolation of eight hyperactive mutants of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae MAPK Hog1, each of which bears a distinct single point mutation. These mutants acquired high intrinsic catalytic activity but did not impose the full biological potential of the Hog1 pathway. Here we describe our attempt to obtain a MAPK that is more active than the previous mutants both catalytically and biologically. We combined two different activating point mutations in the same gene and found that two of the resulting double mutants acquired unusual properties. These alleles, HOG1D170A,F318L and HOG1D170A,F318S, induced a severe growth inhibition and had to be studied through an inducible expression system. This growth inhibition correlated with very high spontaneous (in the absence of any stimulation) catalytic activity and strong induction of Hog1 target genes. Furthermore, analysis of the phosphorylation status of these active alleles shows that their acquired intrinsic activity is independent of either phospho-Thr174 or phospho-Tyr176. Through fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis, we show that the effect on cell growth inhibition is not a result of cell death. This study provides the first example of a MAPK that is intrinsically activated by mutations and induces a strong biological effect.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4826-4840
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2003


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