Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins are essential for normal cellular morphogenesis and have an additional role in mediating cross-linking of glycoproteins to cell wall glucan in yeast cells. Although many GPI-anchored proteins have been characterized in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, none have been reported for well-characterized GPI-anchored proteins in Schizosaccharomyces pombe to date. Among the putative GPIanchored proteins in S. pombe, four α-amylase homologs (Aah1p-Aah4p) have putative signal sequences and C-terminal GPI anchor addition signals. Disruption of aah3 + resulted in a morphological defect and hypersensitivity to cell wall-degrading enzymes. Biochemical analysis showed that Aah3p is an N-glycosylated, GPI-anchored membrane protein localized in the membrane and cell wall fractions. Conjugation and sporulation were not affected by the aah3 + deletion, but the ascal wall of aah3Δ cells was easily lysed by hydrolases. Expression of aah3 alleles in which the conserved aspartic acid and glutamic acid residues required for hydrolase activity were replaced with alanine residues failed to rescue the morphological and ascal wall defects of aah3Δ cells. Taken together, these results indicate that Aah3p is a GPI-anchored protein and is required for cell and ascal wall integrity in S. pombe.
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