Monitoring Editor: Robert G. Parton The endoplasmic reticulum is highly plastic, and increased expression of distinct single ER-resident membrane proteins, such as HMG-CoA reductase (HMGR), can induce a dramatic restructuring of ER membranes into highly organized arrays. Studies on the ER-remodeling behavior of the two yeast HMGR isozymes, Hmg1p and Hmg2p, suggest that they could be mechanistically distinct. We examined the features of Hmg2p required to generate its characteristic structures and found that the molecular requirements are similar to that of Hmg1p. However, the structures generated by Hmg1p and Hmg2p have distinct cell biological features determined by the transmembrane regions of the proteins. In parallel, we conducted a genetic screen to identify HER genes (required for Hmg2p-induced ER Remodeling), further confirming that the mechanisms of membrane reorganization by these two proteins are distinct because most of the HER genes were required for Hmg2p but not Hmg1p-induced ER remodeling. One of the HER genes identified was PSD1, which encodes the phospholipid biosynthetic enzyme, phosphatidylserine decarboxylase. This direct connection to phospholipid biosynthesis prompted a more detailed examination of the effects of Hmg2p on phospholipid mutants and composition. Our analysis revealed that overexpression of Hmg2p caused significant and specific growth defects in nulls of the methylation pathway for phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis that includes the Psd1p enzyme. Furthermore, increased expression of Hmg2p altered the composition of cellular phospholipids in a manner that implied a role for PSD1. These phospholipid effects, unlike Hmg2p-induced ER remodeling, required the enzymatic activity of Hmg2p. Taken together, our results indicate that, although related, Hmg2p- and Hmg1p-induced ER remodeling are mechanistically distinct.
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