The SH3 domain-containing protein Bem1p is needed for normal bud emergence and mating projection formation, two processes that require asymmetric reorganizations of the cortical cytoskeleton in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To identify proteins that functionally and/or physically interact with Bem1p, we screened for mutations that display synthetic lethality with a mutant allele of the BEM1 gene and for genes whose products display two-hybrid interactions with the Bem1 protein. CDC24, which is required for bud emergence and encodes a GEF (guanine-nucleotide exchange factor) for the essential Rho-type GTPase Cdc42p, was identified during both screens. The COOH-terminal 75 amino acids of Cdc24p, outside of the GEF domain, can interact with a portion of Bem1p that lacks both SH3 domains. Bacterially expressed Cdc24p and Bem1p bind to each other in vitro, indicating that no other yeast proteins are required for this interaction. The most frequently identified gene that arose from the bem1 synthetic-lethal screen was the bud-emergence gene BEM2 (Bender and Pringle. 1991. Mol. Cell Biol. 11:1295-1395), which is allelic with IPL2 (increase in ploidy; Chan and Botstein, 1993. Genetics. 135:677-691). Here we show that Bem2p contains a GAP (GTPase-activating protein) domain for Rho-type GTPases, and that this portion of Bem2p can stimulate in vitro the GTPase activity of Rho1p, a second essential yeast Rho-type GTPase. Cells deleted for BEM2 become large and multinucleate. These and other genetic, two-hybrid, biochemical, and phenotypic data suggest that multiple Rho-type GTPases control the reorganization of the cortical cytoskeleton in yeast and that the functions of these GTPases are tightly coupled. Also, these findings raise the possibility that Bem1p may regulate or be a target of action of one or more of these GTPases.

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