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Genetics. 2000 Nov;156(3):933-41.

MGA2 and SPT23 are modifiers of transcriptional silencing in yeast.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut 06459, USA.


Transcriptional silencing at the HM loci and telomeres in yeast depends on several trans-acting factors, including Rap1p and the Sir proteins. The SUM1-1 mutation was identified by its ability to restore silencing to strains deficient in one or more of these trans-acting factors. The mechanism by which SUM1-1 bypasses the requirement for silencing proteins is not known. We identified four loci that when reduced in dosage in diploid strains increase the ability of SUM1-1 strains to suppress silencing defects. Two of the genes responsible for this effect were found to be MGA2 and SPT23. Mga2p and Spt23p were previously identified as functionally related transcription factors that influence chromatin structure. We find that deletion of MGA2 or SPT23 also increases the efficiency of silencing in haploid SUM1-1 strains. These results suggest that Mga2p and Spt23p are antagonists of silencing. Consistent with this proposal we find that deletion of MGA2 or SPT23 also suppresses the silencing defects caused by deletion of the SIR1 gene or by mutations in the HMR silencer sequences. However, we find that Mga2p and Spt23p can positively affect silencing in other contexts; deletion of either MGA2 or SPT23 decreases mating in strains bearing mutations in the HML-E silencer. Mga2p and Spt23p appear to be a novel class of factors that influence disparate pathways of transcriptional control by chromatin.

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