In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the signal generated by extracellular pheromone is transmitted through the beta and gamma subunits of a trimeric G-protein to downstream signaling molecules that mediate the cellular responses associated with mating. To isolate potential downstream signaling components, a yeast genomic library on a multicopy plasmid was screened for genes that increased the mating efficiency of a strain containing a temperature-sensitive G beta subunit mutation. Overexpression of STE5, STE18 (which encodes the G gamma subunit), and a previously unidentified gene, termed SSF1, partially suppressed the mating defect of a G beta mutant. Hybridization of yeast genomic DNA with an SSF1 probe revealed a closely related homolog, termed SSF2, which was isolated and also found to test positively in the assay for suppression. Null mutations in either SSF1 or SSF2 had no obvious phenotype, but disruption of both genes was lethal. Depletion of SSF gene products from growing cultures caused both an arrest of cell division and a significant decrease in the ability of cells to mate. Because mating efficiency was increased by extra copies of the SSF genes and decreased by elimination of the gene products, it is likely that these genes play a role in mating as well as in an essential function.
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