Nuclear membrane fusion is the last step in the mating pathway of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We adapted a bioinformatics approach to identify putative pheromone-induced membrane proteins potentially required for nuclear membrane fusion. One protein, Prm3p, was found to be required for nuclear membrane fusion; disruption of PRM3 caused a strong bilateral defect, in which nuclear congression was completed but fusion did not occur. Prm3p was localized to the nuclear envelope in pheromone-responding cells, with significant colocalization with the spindle pole body in zygotes. A previous report, using a truncated protein, claimed that Prm3p is localized to the inner nuclear envelope. Based on biochemistry, immunoelectron microscopy and live cell microscopy, we find that functional Prm3p is a peripheral membrane protein exposed on the cytoplasmic face of the outer nuclear envelope. In support of this, mutations in a putative nuclear localization sequence had no effect on full-length protein function or localization. In contrast, point mutations and deletions in the highly conserved hydrophobic carboxy-terminal domain disrupted both protein function and localization. Genetic analysis, colocalization, and biochemical experiments indicate that Prm3p interacts directly with Kar5p, suggesting that nuclear membrane fusion is mediated by a protein complex.
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