Mechanistic insights into actin-driven polarity site movement in yeast.
Directed cell growth or migration are critical for the development and function of many eukaryotic cells. These cells develop a dynamic "front" (also called "polarity site") that can change direction. Polarity establishment involves autocatalytic accumulation of polarity regulators, including the conserved Rho-family GTPase Cdc42, but the mechanisms underlying polarity reorientation remain poorly understood. The tractable model yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, relocates its polarity site when searching for mating partners. Relocation requires polymerized actin, and is thought to involve actin-mediated vesicle traffic to the polarity site. In this study, we provide a quantitative characterization of spontaneous polarity site movement as a search process and use a mechanistic computational model that combines polarity protein biochemical interactions with vesicle trafficking to probe how various processes might affect polarity site movement. Our findings identify two previously documented features of yeast vesicle traffic as being particularly relevant to such movement: tight spatial focusing of exocytosis enhances the directional persistence of movement, and association of Cdc42-directed GTPase-Activating Proteins with secretory vesicles increases the distance moved. Furthermore, we suggest that variation in the rate of exocytosis beyond simple Poisson dynamics may be needed to fully account for the characteristics of polarity site movement in vivo.
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