The PKC1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes a homolog of mammalian protein kinase C that is required for normal growth and division of yeast cells. We report here the isolation of the yeast MKK1 and MKK2 (for mitogen-activated protein [MAP] kinase-kinase) genes which, when overexpressed, suppress the cell lysis defect of a temperature-sensitive pkc1 mutant. The MKK genes encode protein kinases most similar to the STE7 product of S. cerevisiae, the byr1 product of Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and vertebrate MAP kinase-kinases. Deletion of either MKK gene alone did not cause any apparent phenotypic defects, but deletion of both MKK1 and MKK2 resulted in a temperature-sensitive cell lysis defect that was suppressed by osmotic stabilizers. This phenotypic defect is similar to that associated with deletion of the BCK1 gene, which is thought to function in the pathway mediated by PCK1. The BCK1 gene also encodes a predicted protein kinase. Overexpression of MKK1 suppressed the growth defect caused by deletion of BCK1, whereas an activated allele of BCK1 (BCK1-20) did not suppress the defect of the mkk1 mkk2 double disruption. Furthermore, overexpression of MPK1, which encodes a protein kinase closely related to vertebrate MAP kinases, suppressed the defect of the mkk1 mkk2 double mutant. These results suggest that MKK1 and MKK2 function in a signal transduction pathway involving the protein kinases encoded by PKC1, BCK1, and MPK1. Genetic epistasis experiments indicated that the site of action for MKK1 and MKK2 is between BCK1 and MPK1.
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