Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Gradient tracking in mating yeast depends on Bud1 inactivation and actin-independent vesicle delivery. The Journal of cell biology Wang, X., Pai, C., Stone, D. E. 2022; 221 (12)


    The mating of budding yeast depends on chemotropism, a fundamental cellular process. Haploid yeast cells of opposite mating type signal their positions to one another through mating pheromones. We have proposed a deterministic gradient sensing model that explains how these cells orient toward their mating partners. Using the cell-cycle determined default polarity site (DS), cells assemble a gradient tracking machine (GTM) composed of signaling, polarity, and trafficking proteins. After assembly, the GTM redistributes up the gradient, aligns with the pheromone source, and triggers polarized growth toward the partner. Since positive feedback mechanisms drive polarized growth at the DS, it is unclear how the GTM is released for tracking. What prevents the GTM from triggering polarized growth at the DS? Here, we describe two mechanisms that are essential for tracking: inactivation of the Ras GTPase Bud1 and positioning of actin-independent vesicle delivery upgradient.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.202203004

    View details for PubMedID 36156058

  • Phosphorylated G beta is a directional cue during yeast gradient tracking SCIENCE SIGNALING Abdul-Ganiyu, R., Venegas, L. A., Wang, X., Puerner, C., Arkowitz, R. A., Kay, B. K., Stone, D. E. 2021; 14 (682)


    Budding yeast cells interpret shallow pheromone gradients from cells of the opposite mating type, polarize their growth toward the pheromone source, and fuse at the chemotropic growth site. We previously proposed a deterministic, gradient-sensing model that explains how yeast cells switch from the intrinsically positioned default polarity site (DS) to the gradient-aligned chemotropic site (CS) at the plasma membrane. Because phosphorylation of the mating-specific Gβ subunit is thought to be important for this process, we developed a biosensor that bound to phosphorylated but not unphosphorylated Gβ and monitored its spatiotemporal dynamics to test key predictions of our gradient-sensing model. In mating cells, the biosensor colocalized with both Gβ and receptor reporters at the DS and then tracked with them to the CS. The biosensor concentrated on the leading side of the tracking Gβ and receptor peaks and was the first to arrive and stop tracking at the CS. Our data showed that the concentrated localization of phosphorylated Gβ correlated with the tracking direction and final position of the G protein and receptor, consistent with the idea that gradient-regulated phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of Gβ contributes to gradient sensing. Cells expressing a nonphosphorylatable mutant form of Gβ exhibited defects in gradient tracking, orientation toward mating partners, and mating efficiency.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scisignal.abf4710

    View details for Web of Science ID 000652181200002

    View details for PubMedID 33975981

  • Mating yeast cells use an intrinsic polarity site to assemble a pheromone-gradient tracking machine JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Wang, X., Tian, W., Banh, B. T., Statler, B., Liang, J., Stone, D. E. 2019; 218 (11): 3730-3752


    The mating of budding yeast depends on chemotropism, a fundamental cellular process. The two yeast mating types secrete peptide pheromones that bind to GPCRs on cells of the opposite type. Cells find and contact a partner by determining the direction of the pheromone source and polarizing their growth toward it. Actin-directed secretion to the chemotropic growth site (CS) generates a mating projection. When pheromone-stimulated cells are unable to sense a gradient, they form mating projections where they would have budded in the next cell cycle, at a position called the default polarity site (DS). Numerous models have been proposed to explain yeast gradient sensing, but none address how cells reliably switch from the intrinsically determined DS to the gradient-aligned CS, despite a weak spatial signal. Here we demonstrate that, in mating cells, the initially uniform receptor and G protein first polarize to the DS, then redistribute along the plasma membrane until they reach the CS. Our data indicate that signaling, polarity, and trafficking proteins localize to the DS during assembly of what we call the gradient tracking machine (GTM). Differential activation of the receptor triggers feedback mechanisms that bias exocytosis upgradient and endocytosis downgradient, thus enabling redistribution of the GTM toward the pheromone source. The GTM stabilizes when the receptor peak centers at the CS and the endocytic machinery surrounds it. A computational model simulates GTM tracking and stabilization and correctly predicts that its assembly at a single site contributes to mating fidelity.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.201901155

    View details for Web of Science ID 000494843800018

    View details for PubMedID 31570500

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6829655

  • G beta promotes pheromone receptor polarization and yeast chemotropism by inhibiting receptor phosphorylation SCIENCE SIGNALING Ismael, A., Tian, W., Waszczak, N., Wang, X., Cao, Y., Suchkov, D., Bar, E., Metodiev, M. V., Liang, J., Arkowitz, R. A., Stone, D. E. 2016; 9 (423): ra38


    Gradient-directed cell migration (chemotaxis) and growth (chemotropism) are processes that are essential to the development and life cycles of all species. Cells use surface receptors to sense the shallow chemical gradients that elicit chemotaxis and chemotropism. Slight asymmetries in receptor activation are amplified by downstream signaling systems, which ultimately induce dynamic reorganization of the cytoskeleton. During the mating response of budding yeast, a model chemotropic system, the pheromone receptors on the plasma membrane polarize to the side of the cell closest to the stimulus. Although receptor polarization occurs before and independently of actin cable-dependent delivery of vesicles to the plasma membrane (directed secretion), it requires receptor internalization. Phosphorylation of pheromone receptors by yeast casein kinase 1 or 2 (Yck1/2) stimulates their internalization. We showed that the pheromone-responsive Gβγ dimer promotes the polarization of the pheromone receptor by interacting with Yck1/2 and locally inhibiting receptor phosphorylation. We also found that receptor phosphorylation is essential for chemotropism, independently of its role in inducing receptor internalization. A mathematical model supports the idea that the interaction between Gβγ and Yck1/2 results in differential phosphorylation and internalization of the pheromone receptor and accounts for its polarization before the initiation of directed secretion.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scisignal.aad4376

    View details for Web of Science ID 000374111200005

    View details for PubMedID 27072657

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4908976

  • BaxΔ2 Family Alternative Splicing Salvages Bax Microsatellite-Frameshift Mutations. Genes & cancer Haferkamp, B., Zhang, H., Kissinger, S., Wang, X., Lin, Y., Schultz, M., Xiang, J. 2013; 4 (11-12): 501-12


    Mutation or aberrant splicing can interrupt gene expression. Tumor suppressor Bax is one of the susceptible genes prone to microsatellite frameshifting mutations in coding regions. As a result, tumors exhibiting microsatellite instability (MSI) often present a "Bax-negative" phenotype. We previously reported that some Bax-negative cells in fact contain a functional Bax isoform (BaxΔ2), generated when unique alternative splicing "salvages" the shifted reading frame introduced by a microsatellite mutation. Here we compared Bax alternative splicing profiles in a range of cell lines and primary tumors with and without Bax microsatellite mutations. We found that MSI tumors exhibit a high Bax alternative splicing frequency, especially in exon 2, and produce a family of alternatively spliced isoforms that retain many important Bax functional domains. Surprisingly, these BaxΔ2 family isoforms can rescue Bax from all common microsatellite frameshift mutations. Production of BaxΔ2 requires specific cis mutations, while trans components are not cell-type specific. Furthermore, all BaxΔ2 family isoforms are more potent cell death inducers than the parental Bax without directly targeting mitochondria. These results indicate that the BaxΔ2 family can potentially salvage Bax tumor suppressor expression otherwise lost to mutation.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1947601913515906

    View details for PubMedID 24386510

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3877669