Sexual reproduction is a fundamental aspect of eukaryotic cells, and a conserved feature of gametogenesis is its dependency on a master regulator. The ste11 gene was isolated more than 20 years ago by the Yamamoto laboratory as a suppressor of the uncontrolled meiosis driven by a pat1 mutant. Numerous studies from this laboratory and others have established the role of the Ste11 transcription factor as the master regulator of the switch between proliferation and differentiation in fission yeast. The transcriptional and post-transcriptional controls of ste11 expression are intricate, but most are not redundant. Whereas the transcriptional controls ensure that the gene is transcribed at a high level only when nutrients are rare, the post-transcriptional controls restrict the ability of Ste11 to function as a transcription factor to the G1-phase of the cell cycle from where the differentiation programme is initiated. Several feedback loops ensure that the cell fate decision is irreversible. The complete panel of molecular mechanisms operating to warrant the timely expression of the ste11 gene and its encoded protein basically mirrors the advances in the understanding of the numerous ways by which gene expression can be modulated.
- Fission yeast