We have isolated 14 apg mutants defective in autophagy in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Tsukada and Ohsumi, 1993). Among them, APG1 encodes a novel Ser/Thr protein kinase whose kinase activity is essential for autophagy. In the course of searching for genes that genetically interact with APG1, we found that overexpression of APG1 under control of the GAL1 promoter suppressed the autophagy-defective phenotype of apg13-1 mutant. Cloning and sequencing analysis showed that the APG13 gene encodes a novel hydrophilic protein of 738 amino acid residues. APG13 gene is constitutively expressed bot not starvation-inducible. Though dispensable for cell proliferation, APG13 is important for maintenance of cell viability under starvation conditions. apg13 disruptants were defective in autophagy like apg13-1 mutants. Morphological and biochemical investigation showed that a defect in autophagy of delta apg13 was also suppressed by APG1 overexpression. These results imply genetic interaction between APG1 and APG13.
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