The cellular programs for meiosis and mitosis must be strictly distinguished but the mechanisms controlling the entry to meiosis remain largely elusive in higher organisms. In contrast, recent analyses in yeast have shed new light on the mechanisms underlying the mitosis–meiosis switch. In this review, the current understanding of these mechanisms in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is discussed. Meiosis-inducing signals in this microbe emanating from environmental conditions including the nutrient status converge on the activity of an RRM-type RNA-binding protein, Mei2. This protein plays pivotal roles in both the induction and progression of meiosis and has now been found to govern the meiotic program in a quite unexpected manner. Fission yeast contains an RNA degradation system that selectively eliminates meiosis-specific mRNAs during the mitotic cell cycle. Mmi1, a novel RNA-binding protein of the YTH-family, is essential for this process. Mei2 tethers Mmi1 and thereby stabilizes the transcripts necessary for the progression of meiosis.
(Communicated by Kumao TOYOSHIMA, M.J.A.)
2010 The Japan Academy