Mutations in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae opi3 gene: effects on phospholipid methylation, growth and cross-pathway regulation of inositol synthesis.
P McGraw, S A Henry


We report the isolation of two new opi3 mutants by EMS mutagenesis, and construction of an insertion allele in vitro using the cloned gene. We have demonstrated that the opi3 mutations cause a deficiency in the two terminal phospholipid N-methyltransferase (PLMT) activities required for the de novo synthesis of PC (phosphatidylcholine). The opi3 mutants, under certain growth conditions, produce membrane virtually devoid of PC although, surprisingly, none of the mutants displays a strict auxotrophic requirement for choline. Although the opi3 mutants grow without supplements, we have shown that the atypical membrane affects the ability of the mutant strains to initiate log phase growth and to sustain viability at stationary phase. The commencement of log phase growth is enhanced by addition of choline or to a lesser extent DME (dimethylethanolamine), and retarded by addition of MME (monomethylethanolamine). The mutant cells lose viability at the stationary phase of the cell cycle in the absence of DME or choline, and are also temperature sensitive for growth at 37 degrees especially in media containing MME. These growth defects have been correlated to the presence of specific phospholipids in the membrane. The opi3 growth defects are suppressed by an unusual mutation in the phospholipid methylation pathway that perturbs the N-methyltransferase (PEMT) activity immediately preceding the reactions affected by the opi3 lesion. We believe this mutation, cho2-S, alters the substrate specificity of the PEMT. A secondary effect of opi3 mutations is disruption of the cross pathway regulation of the synthesis of the PI (phosphatidylinositol) precursor inositol. Synthesis of inositol is controlled through regulation of the INO1 gene which encodes inositol-1-phosphate synthase. This highly regulated gene is expressed constitutively in opi3 mutants. We have used the opi3 strains to demonstrate that synthesis of either PC or PD (phosphatidyldimethylethanolamine) will restore normal regulation of the INO1 gene.