Glucose is the preferred carbon of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Depletion of glucose activates SNF1 (yeast AMP-activated protein kinase—AMPK), allowing cells to switch from fermentation to respiration. We have recently characterized the mechanism by which SNF1 activity is regulated by the Std1 protein, and its regulator Sip5. The hitherto uncharacterized protein kinase Vhs1 phosphorylates Sip5 in response to glucose availability, disengaging it from Std1 and promoting the sequestering of the SNF1 activator out of the nucleus into cytoplasmic puncta. These aggregates, which have the properties of liquid drops, and not of amyloids, reside in the nucleus–vacuole junction. The process is reversible, and Std1 puncta dissolve when glucose becomes scarce again. This reversible process requires protein chaperones, similar to the aggregation of toxic or misfolded proteins such as those associated with Huntington’s Chorea, Alzheimer’s and CJD diseases. Our results thus reveal a regulated, non-pathological, physiological role of protein aggregation that controls a major metabolic cellular pathway.
- Amyloid aggregation
- Liquid drop