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Axl2 Integrates Polarity Establishment, Maintenance, and Environmental Stress Response in the Filamentous Fungus Ashbya gossypii

Anker, Jonathan F., Gladfelter, Amy S.
Eukaryotic cell 2011 v.10 no.12 pp. 1679-1693
Eremothecium gossypii, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, actin, cell cycle, cell walls, hypersensitivity, hyphae, mutants, stress response, yeasts
In budding yeast, new sites of polarity are chosen with each cell cycle and polarization is transient. In filamentous fungi, sites of polarity persist for extended periods of growth and new polarity sites can be established while existing sites are maintained. How the polarity establishment machinery functions in these distinct growth forms found in fungi is still not well understood. We have examined the function of Axl2, a transmembrane bud site selection protein discovered in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, in the filamentous fungus Ashbya gossypii. A. gossypii does not divide by budding and instead exhibits persistent highly polarized growth, and multiple axes of polarity coexist in one cell. A. gossypii axl2Δ (Agaxl2Δ) cells have wavy hyphae, bulbous tips, and a high frequency of branch initiations that fail to elongate, indicative of a polarity maintenance defect. Mutant colonies also have significantly lower radial growth and hyphal tip elongation speeds than wild-type colonies, and Agaxl2Δ hyphae have depolarized actin patches. Consistent with a function in polarity, AgAxl2 localizes to hyphal tips, branches, and septin rings. Unlike S. cerevisiae Axl2, AgAxl2 contains a Mid2 homology domain and may function to sense or respond to environmental stress. In support of this idea, hyphae lacking AgAxl2 also display hypersensitivity to heat, osmotic, and cell wall stresses. Axl2 serves to integrate polarity establishment, polarity maintenance, and environmental stress response for optimal polarized growth in A. gossypii.