Treatment of either mating type of Saccharomyces cerevisiae with the appropriate sex pheromone increased cell-cell binding in a modified cocentrifugation assay. Constitutive agglutination of haploids was qualitatively similar to pheromone-induced agglutination. Regardless of exposure to pheromone, agglutinable combinations of cells exhibited maximal binding across similar ranges of ionic strength, pH, and temperature. Binding of all combinations was inhibited by 8 M urea, 1 M pyridine, or 0.05% sodium dodecyl sulfate. From alpha-cells we solubilized and partially purified an inhibitor of a-cell agglutinability. This inhibitor reversibly masked all a-cell adhesion sites and inactivated pheromone-treated and control cells with similar kinetics. The inhibitor behaved as a homogeneous species in heat inactivation experiments. Based on these results, we proposed a model for pheromone effects on agglutination in S. cerevisiae
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