We have characterized a class of mutations in PMA1, (encoding plasma membrane ATPase) that is ideal for the analysis of membrane targeting in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This class of pma1 mutants undergoes growth arrest at the restrictive temperature because newly synthesized ATPase fails to be targeted to the cell surface. Instead, mutant ATPase is delivered to the vacuole, where it is degraded. Delivery to the vacuole occurs without previous arrival at the plasma membrane because degradation of mutant ATPase is not prevented when internalization from the cell surface is blocked. Disruption of PEP4, encoding vacuolar proteinase A, blocks ATPase degradation, but fails to restore growth because the ATPase is still improperly targeted. One of these pma1 mutants was used to select multicopy suppressors that would permit growth at the nonpermissive temperature. A novel gene, AST1, identified by this selection, suppresses several pma1 alleles defective for targeting. The basis for suppression is that multicopy AST1 causes rerouting of mutant ATPase from the vacuole to the cell surface. pma1 mutants deleted for AST1 have a synthetic growth defect at the permissive temperature, providing genetic evidence for interaction between AST1 and PMA1. Ast1 is a cytoplasmic protein that associates with membranes, and is localized to multiple compartments, including the plasma membrane. The identification of AST1 homologues suggests that Ast1 belongs to a novel family of proteins that participates in membrane traffic.

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