Two chitin synthases in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Disruption of the yeast CHS1 gene, which encodes trypsin-activable chitin synthase I, yielded strains that apparently lacked chitin synthase activity in vitro, yet contained normal levels of chitin (Bulawa, C. E., Slater, M., Cabib, E., Au-Young, J., Sburlati, A., Adair, W. L., and Robbins, P. W. (1986) Cell 46, 213-225). It is shown here that disrupted (chs1 :: URA3) strains have a particulate chitin synthetic activity, chitin synthase II, and that wild type strains, in addition to chitin synthase I, have this second activity. Chitin synthase II is measured in wild type strains without preincubation with trypsin, the condition under which highest chitin synthase II activities are obtained in extracts from the chs1 :: URA3 strain. Chitin synthase II, like chitin synthase I, uses UDP-GlcNAc as substrate and synthesizes alkali-insoluble chitin (with a chain length of about 170 residues). The enzymes are equally sensitive to the competitive inhibitor Polyoxin D. The two chitin synthases are distinct in their pH and temperature optima, and in their responses to trypsin, digitonin, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, and Co2+. In contrast to the report by Sburlati and Cabib (Sburlati, A., and Cabib, E. (1986) Fed. Proc. 45, 1909), chitin synthase II activity in vitro is usually lowered on treatment with trypsin, indicating that chitin synthase II is not activated by proteolysis. Chitin synthase II shows highest specific activities in extracts from logarithmically growing cultures, whereas chitin synthase I, whether from growing or stationary phase cultures, is only measurable after trypsin treatment, and levels of the zymogen do not change. Chitin synthase I is not required for alpha-mating pheromone-induced chitin synthesis in MATa cells, yet levels of chitin synthase I zymogen double in alpha factor-treated cultures. Specific chitin synthase II activities do not change in pheromone-treated cultures. It is proposed that of yeast's two chitin synthases, chitin synthase II is responsible for chitin synthesis in vivo, whereas nonessential chitin synthase I, detectable in vitro only after trypsin treatment, may not normally be active in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5732-5739
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Apr 25 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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