Research ArticleCell Biology

Single-Cell Analysis Reveals That Insulation Maintains Signaling Specificity Between Two Yeast MAPK Pathways with Common Components

Sci. Signal.  19 Oct 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 144, pp. ra75
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001275

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Keeping Signals Separate

Many signaling pathways involve the same components, yet cells can keep track of multiple inputs and respond with an appropriate output without inappropriately cross-activating pathways that use the same components. Patterson et al. investigated how cells ensure signaling specificity. They used fluorescent reporters and fusion proteins to monitor the response of yeast to two signals, mating pheromone and hyperosmotic stress, which trigger two mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways that share four signaling components. They demonstrated that single cells can respond simultaneously to both pheromone and hyperosmotic stress and, therefore, that each stimulus does not cross-inhibit the other pathway. Their data suggest that inappropriate cross talk is prohibited through a mechanism involving pathway insulation rather than cross-inhibition.