The Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein Knr4 is composed of a globular central core flanked by two natively disordered regions. Although the central part of the protein holds most of its biological function, the N-terminal domain (amino acids 1-80) is essential in the absence of a functional CWI pathway. We show that this specific protein domain is required for the proper cellular localization of Knr4 at sites of polarized growth during vegetative growth and sexual differentiation (bud tip and 'shmoo' tip). Moreover, Knr4 N-terminal domain is also necessary for cell cycle arrest and shmoo formation in response to pheromone to occur at the correct speed. Thus, the presence of Knr4 at the incipient mating projection site seems important for the establishment of the following polarized growth. Cell wall integrity (CWI) and calcineurin pathways are known to share a common essential function, for which they can substitute for one another. Searching for Knr4 partners responsible for survival in a CWI-defective background, we found that the catalytic subunit of calcineurin Cna1 physically interacts with Knr4 in the yeast two-hybrid assay, in a manner dependent on the presence of the Knr4 N-terminal domain. In addition, we present evidence that Knr4 protein participates in the morphogenesis checkpoint, a safety mechanism that holds the cell cycle in response to bud formation defects or insults in cytoskeleton organization, and in which both the CWI pathway and calcineurin are involved.
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