The Rho-type GTPase Cdc42p is required for cell polarization and bud emergence in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To identify genes whose functions are linked to CDC42, we screened for (i) multicopy suppressors of a Ts- cdc42 mutant, (ii) mutants that require multiple copies of CDC42 for survival, and (iii) mutations that display synthetic lethality with a partial-loss-of-function allele of CDC24, which encodes a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Cdc42p. In all three screens, we identified a new gene, BEM4. Cells from which BEM4 was deleted were inviable at 37 degrees C. These cells became unbudded, large, and round, consistent with a model in which Bem4p acts together with Cdc42p in polarity establishment and bud emergence. In some strains, the ability of CDC42 to serve as a multicopy suppressor of the Ts- growth defect of deltabem4 cells required co-overexpression of Rho1p, which is an essential Rho-type GTPase necessary for cell wall integrity. This finding suggests that Bem4p also affects Rho1p function. Bem4p displayed two-hybrid interactions with Cdc42p, Rho1p, and two of the three other known yeast Rho-type GTPases, suggesting that Bem4p can interact with multiple Rho-type GTPases. Models for the role of Bem4p include that it serves as a chaperone or modulates the interaction of these GTPases with one or more of their targets or regulators.
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