Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2002

Published In

Cell Biology Education


The isolation and characterization of mutants has been crucial in understanding a number of processes in the field of cell biology. In this exercise, students examine the effects of mutations in the secretory pathway on protein localization. Yeast strains deficient for synthesis of histidinol dehydrogenase are transformed with a plasmid encoding a chimeric protein. The chimera contains a signal sequence fused to histidinol dehydrogenase. A strain with a defect in the translocation of secretory proteins into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) accumulates sufficient histidinol dehydrogenase in the cytoplasm to grow on media lacking histidine. In contrast, yeast proficient for secretion, or yeast with secretion defects later in the pathway, are unable to grow on media lacking histidine. Student analysis of the experimental yeast transformants and appropriate controls allows investigation into the effects of conditional defects in the secretory pathway on both cell viability and protein localization. The exercise is usually performed in a manner that allows students to execute a number of techniques common in molecular biology laboratories, including plasmid minipreps, restriction digestions, and Southern blots. Student understanding and enjoyment of the exercise was assessed by laboratory reports, oral and written examinations, and questionnaires. After completion of these experiments, students can describe the utility of protein fusions, the roles of mutant analysis in cell biology, and the steps taken by proteins transiting the secretory pathway.


This work has been provided to PubMed Central courtesy of The American Society for Cell Biology.