Ca2+ ATPases deplete the cytosol of Ca2+ ions and are crucial to cellular Ca2+ homeostasis. The PMC1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes a vacuole membrane protein that is 40% identical to the plasma membrane Ca2+ ATPases (PMCAs) of mammalian cells. Mutants lacking PMC1 grow well in standard media, but sequester Ca2+ into the vacuole at 20% of the wild-type levels. pmc1 null mutants fail to grow in media containing high levels of Ca2+, suggesting a role of PMC1 in Ca2+ tolerance. The growth inhibitory effect of added Ca2+ requires activation of calcineurin, a Ca2+ and calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase. Mutations in calcineurin A or B subunits or the inhibitory compounds FK506 and cyclosporin A restore growth of pmc1 mutants in high Ca2+ media. Also, growth is restored by recessive mutations that inactivate the high-affinity Ca(2+)-binding sites in calmodulin. This mutant calmodulin has apparently lost the ability to activate calcineurin in vivo. These results suggest that activation of calcineurin by Ca2+ and calmodulin can negatively affect yeast growth. A second Ca2+ ATPase homolog encoded by the PMR1 gene acts together with PMC1 to prevent lethal activation of calcineurin even in standard (low Ca2+) conditions. We propose that these Ca2+ ATPase homologs are essential in yeast to deplete the cytosol of Ca2+ ions which, at elevated concentrations, inhibits yeast growth through inappropriate activation of calcineurin.

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