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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 1984; 81(11): 3332–3336.
PMCID: PMC345501

Copper metallothionein of yeast, structure of the gene, and regulation of expression.


Addition of copper to yeast cells leads to the induction of a low molecular weight, cysteine-rich protein that binds copper. This protein, termed copper chelatin or thionein, is related to the metallothionein family of proteins that are induced in response to cadmium and zinc in vertebrate cells. We have determined the structure of the yeast copper-binding protein by DNA sequence analysis of the gene. Although the 6573-dalton yeast protein is substantially divergent from vertebrate metallothioneins, the arrangement of 12 cysteine residues, which is a hallmark of metal-binding proteins, is partially conserved. We analyzed the regulatory DNA sequence of the gene by fusing it with the Escherichia coli galactokinase gene and assaying the levels of enzyme activity in yeast in response to copper. The transcriptional activation has a specific requirement for copper. Zinc, cadmium, and gold were unable to regulate the galactokinase activity. The yeast copper metallothionein regulatory sequences represent a previously unreported class of yeast promoter that is regulated by copper.

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Selected References

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