Cell fusion in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a temporally and spatially regulated process that involves degradation of the septum, which is composed of cell wall material, and occurs between conjugating cells within a prezygote, followed by plasma membrane fusion. The plasma membrane protein Fus1p is known to be required for septum degradation during cell fusion, yet its role at the molecular level is not understood. We identified Sho1p, an osmosensor for the HOG MAPK pathway, as a binding partner for Fus1 in a two-hybrid screen. The Sho1p-Fus1p interaction occurs directly and is mediated through the Sho1p-SH3 domain and a proline-rich peptide ligand on the Fus1p COOH-terminal cytoplasmic region. The cell fusion defect associated with fus1Delta mutants is suppressed by a sho1Delta deletion allele, suggesting that Fus1p negatively regulates Sho1p signaling to ensure efficient cell fusion. A two-hybrid matrix containing fusion proteins and pheromone response pathway signaling molecules reveals that Fus1p may participate in a complex network of interactions. In particular, the Fus1p cytoplasmic domain interacts with Chs5p, a protein required for secretion of specialized Chs3p-containing vesicles during bud development, and chs5Delta mutants were defective in cell surface localization of Fus1p. The Fus1p cytoplasmic domain also interacts with the activated GTP-bound form of Cdc42p and the Fus1p-SH3 domain interacts with Bni1p, a yeast formin that participates in cell fusion and controls the assembly of actin cables to polarize secretion in response to Cdc42p signaling. Taken together, our results suggest that Fus1p acts as a scaffold for the assembly of a cell surface complex involved in polarized secretion of septum-degrading enzymes and inhibition of HOG pathway signaling to promote cell fusion.
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