Cell polarization in response to chemical gradients is important in development and homeostasis across eukaryota. Chemosensing cells orient toward or away from gradient sources by polarizing along a front–rear axis. Using the mating response of budding yeast as a model of chemotropic cell polarization, we found that Dcv1, a member of the claudin superfamily, influences front–rear polarity. Although Dcv1 localized uniformly on the plasma membrane (PM) of vegetative cells, it was confined to the rear of cells responding to pheromone, away from the pheromone receptor. dcv1Δ conferred mislocalization of sensory, polarity and trafficking proteins, as well as PM lipids. These phenotypes correlated with defects in pheromone-gradient tracking and cell fusion. We propose that Dcv1 helps demarcate the mating-specific front domain primarily by restricting PM lipid distribution.

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