Transmembrane signaling in Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model for signaling in metazoans: State of the art after 25years

David Engelberg*, Riki Perlman, Alexander Levitzki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


In the very first article that appeared in Cellular Signalling, published in its inaugural issue in October 1989, we reviewed signal transduction pathways in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Although this yeast was already a powerful model organism for the study of cellular processes, it was not yet a valuable instrument for the investigation of signaling cascades. In 1989, therefore, we discussed only two pathways, the Ras/cAMP and the mating (Fus3) signaling cascades. The pivotal findings concerning those pathways undoubtedly contributed to the realization that yeast is a relevant model for understanding signal transduction in higher eukaryotes. Consequently, the last 25. years have witnessed the discovery of many signal transduction pathways in S. cerevisiae, including the high osmotic glycerol (Hog1), Stl2/Mpk1 and Smk1 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways, the TOR, AMPK/Snf1, SPS, PLC1 and Pkr/Gcn2 cascades, and systems that sense and respond to various types of stress. For many cascades, orthologous pathways were identified in mammals following their discovery in yeast. Here we review advances in the understanding of signaling in S. cerevisiae over the last 25. years. When all pathways are analyzed together, some prominent themes emerge. First, wiring of signaling cascades may not be identical in all S. cerevisiae strains, but is probably specific to each genetic background. This situation complicates attempts to decipher and generalize these webs of reactions. Secondly, the Ras/cAMP and the TOR cascades are pivotal pathways that affect all processes of the life of the yeast cell, whereas the yeast MAP kinase pathways are not essential. Yeast cells deficient in all MAP kinases proliferate normally. Another theme is the existence of central molecular hubs, either as single proteins (e.g., Msn2/4, Flo11) or as multisubunit complexes (e.g., TORC1/2), which are controlled by numerous pathways and in turn determine the fate of the cell. It is also apparent that lipid signaling is less developed in yeast than in higher eukaryotes. Finally, feedback regulatory mechanisms seem to be at least as important and powerful as the pathways themselves. In the final chapter of this essay we dare to imagine the essence of our next review on signaling in yeast, to be published on the 50th anniversary of Cellular Signalling in 2039.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2865-2878
Number of pages14
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.


  • CAMP
  • MAP kinase
  • Msn2
  • Ras
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • TOR


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