Molecular biology of the cell

Nuclear fusion and genome encounter during yeast zygote formation.

PMID 19369416


When haploid cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae are crossed, parental nuclei congress and fuse with each other. To investigate underlying mechanisms, we have developed assays that evaluate the impact of drugs and mutations. Nuclear congression is inhibited by drugs that perturb the actin and tubulin cytoskeletons. Nuclear envelope (NE) fusion consists of at least five steps in which preliminary modifications are followed by controlled flux of first outer and then inner membrane proteins, all before visible dilation of the waist of the nucleus or coalescence of the parental spindle pole bodies. Flux of nuclear pore complexes occurs after dilation. Karyogamy requires both the Sec18p/NSF ATPase and ER/NE luminal homeostasis. After fusion, chromosome tethering keeps tagged parental genomes separate from each other. The process of NE fusion and evidence of genome independence in yeast provide a prototype for understanding related events in higher eukaryotes.