The virally encoded K28 killer toxin of kills sensitive cells by a receptor-mediated process. DNA synthesis is rapidly inhibited, cell viability is lost more slowly and cells eventually arrest, apparently in the S phase of the cell cycle with a medium-sized bud, a single nucleus in the mother cell and a pre-replicated (1n) DNA content. Cytoplasmic microtubules appear normal, and no spindle is detectable. Arrest of a sensitive haploid yeast strain by α-factor at START gave complete protection for at least 4 h against a toxin concentration that killed non-arrested cells at the rate of one log each 2.5 h. Cells released from α-factor arrest were killed by toxin at a similar rate; arrest occurred with medium-sized buds within the same cell cycle. Cells arrested by hydroxyurea, with unreplicated DNA, or by the spindle poison methylbenzimidazol-2yl-carbamate, with unseparated chromosomes, both arrest at the checkpoint at the G2/M boundary; these arrested cells were not protected against toxin, losing about one log of viability every 4 h. Following release from the cell cycle block, a majority of these toxin-exposed cells progressed through the cell cycle and arrested in the following S-phase, again with medium-sized buds. Killing by K28 toxin apparently requires entry into the nuclear division and bud cycles, but can result from inhibition of either early or late events in these cycles. Morphogenesis in moribund cells is uniformly blocked in early S-phase with an immature bud. Toxin action causes either independent blockage of both DNA synthesis and the budding cycle, or inhibits some unknown step required for both events.


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