Mutation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae RLM1, which encodes a MADS-box transcription factor, confers resistance to the toxic effects of constitutive activity of the Mpk1 mitogen-activated kinase (MAPK) pathway. The Rlm1 DNA-binding domain, which is similar to that of the metazoan MEF2 transcription factors, is also closely related to that of a second S. cerevisiae protein, Smp1 (second MEF2-like protein), encoded by the YBR182C open reading frame (N. Demolis et al., Yeast 10:1511-1525, 1994; H. Feldmann et al., EMBO J. 13:5795-5809, 1994). We show that Rlm1 and Smp1 have MEF2-related DNA-binding specificities: Rlm1 binds with the same specificity as MEF2, CTA(T/A)4TAG, while SMP1 binds a more extended consensus sequence, ACTACTA(T/A)4TAG. The two DNA-binding domains can heterodimerize with each other and with MEF2A. Deletion of RLM1 enhances resistance to cell wall disruptants, increases saturation density, reduces flocculation, and inactivates reporter genes controlled by the Rlm1 consensus binding site. Deletion of SMP1 neither causes these phenotypes nor enhances the Rlm1 deletion phenotype. However, overexpression of the DNA-binding domain of either protein causes an osmoremedial phenotype. Synthetic and naturally occurring MEF2 consensus sequences exhibit strong RLM1- and MPK1-dependent upstream activation sequence activity. Transcriptional activation by Rlm1 requires its C-terminal sequences, and Gal4 fusion proteins containing Rlm1 C-terminal sequences also act as MPK1-dependent transcriptional activators. These results establish the Rlm1 C-terminal sequences as a target for the Mpk1 MAPK pathway.
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