The role of cell-surface proteins in the sexual cell-cell interactions between haploid cells of two mating types of was studied. Gamete cells (mating-pheromone-treated cells) of the two mating types immediately associated to form large sexual agglutination complexes in a mating-type-specific manner. Vegetative cells, on the other hand, agglutinated after a lag period that corresponded to the time required for mating tube formation. Sexual agglutination was inhibited by the presence of various proteases. Polypeptides with binding activity specific for gamete cells of the opposite mating type were released from gamete cells of the two mating types by digestion with thermolysin.


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