Ergosterol is the yeast functional equivalent of cholesterol in mammalian cells. Deletion of the ERG6 gene, which encodes an enzyme catalyzing a late step of ergosterol biosynthesis, impedes targeting of the tryptophan permease Tat2p to the plasma membrane, but does not promote vacuolar degradation. It is unknown whether similar features appear when other steps of ergosterol biogenesis are inhibited. We show herein that the ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitor zaragozic acid (ZA) evoked massive vacuolar degradation of Tat2p, accompanied by a decrease in tryptophan uptake. ZA inhibits squalene synthetase (SQS, EC 126.96.36.199), which catalyzes the first committed step in the formation of cholesterol/ergosterol. The degradation of Tat2p was dependent on the Rsp5p-mediated ubiquitination of Tat2p and was not suppressed by deletions of VPS1, VPS27, VPS45 or PEP12. We will discuss ZA-mediated Tat2p degradation in the context of lipid rafts.
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