The establishment of cell polarity in budding yeast involves assembly of actin filaments at specified cortical domains. Elucidation of the underlying mechanism requires an understanding of the machinery that controls actin polymerization and how this machinery is in turn controlled by signaling proteins that respond to polarity cues. We showed previously that the yeast orthologue of the Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome protein, Bee1/Las17p, and the type I myosins are key regulators of cortical actin polymerization. Here, we demonstrate further that these proteins together with Vrp1p form a multivalent Arp2/3-activating complex. During cell polarization, a bifurcated signaling pathway downstream of the Rho-type GTPase Cdc42p recruits and activates this complex, leading to local assembly of actin filaments. One branch, which requires formin homologues, mediates the recruitment of the Bee1p complex to the cortical site where the activated Cdc42p resides. The other is mediated by the p21-activated kinases, which activate the motor activity of myosin-I through phosphorylation. Together, these findings provide insights into the essential processes leading to polarization of the actin cytoskeleton.
Alignment of the mitotic spindle with the axis of cell division is an essential process in Saccharomyces cerevisiae that is mediated by interactions between cytoplasmic microtubules and the cell cortex. We found that a cortical protein, the yeast formin Bni1p, was required for spindle orientation. Two striking abnormalities were observed in bni1Δ cells. First, the initial movement of the spindle pole body (SPB) toward the emerging bud was defective. This phenotype is similar to that previously observed in cells lacking the kinesin Kip3p and, in fact, BNI1 and KIP3 were found to be in the same genetic pathway. Second, abnormal pulling interactions between microtubules and the cortex appeared to cause preanaphase spindles in bni1Δ cells to transit back and forth between the mother and the bud. We therefore propose that Bni1p may localize or alter the function of cortical microtubule-binding sites in the bud. Additionally, we present evidence that other bipolar bud site determinants together with cortical actin are also required for spindle orientation.