Diploid cells of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae form after the mating of two haploid cells of the opposite mating type. After fusion of the two plasma membranes of the mating cells, a dinucleated cell forms initially in which the two haploid nuclei then rapidly fuse to form a single diploid nucleus. This latter event, called karyogamy, can be divided into two distinct steps: the microtubule-based movement that causes the two nuclei to become closely juxtaposed and the fusion of the nuclear membranes. For the membrane fusion step, one required component, the ER luminal protein Kar2p (BiP), has been identified. For topological reasons, however, it has been unclear how Kar2p could function in this role. Kar2p is localized to the luminal (i.e., noncytoplasmic) face of the ER membrane, yet nuclear fusion must initiate from the cytosolic side of the outer nuclear membrane or the ER membrane with which it is contiguous. There is both genetic and biochemical evidence that Kar2p interacts with Sec63p, an ER membrane protein containing both luminal and cytosolic domains that is involved in protein translocation across the membrane. We have isolated novel sec63 mutant alleles that display severe karyogamy defects. Disruption of the genes encoding other Sec63p-associated proteins (Sec71p and Sec72p) also results in karyogamy defects. A suppressor mutant (sos1-1) partially corrects the translocation defect but does not alleviate the karyogamy defect. sec61 and sec62 mutant alleles that cause similar or more severe protein translocation defects show no karyogamy defects. Taken together, these results suggest a direct role for Sec63p, Sec71p, and Sec72p in nuclear membrane fusion and argue against the alternative interpretation that the karyogamy defects result as an indirect consequence of the impaired membrane translocation of another component(s) required for the process. We propose that an ER/nuclear membrane protein complex composed of Sec63p, Sec71p, and Sec72p plays a central role in mediating nuclear membrane fusion and requires ER luminally associated Kar2p for its function.

This content is only available as a PDF.