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Mol Cell Biol. 2001 Oct;21(20):7035-46.

Induction of distinct [URE3] yeast prion strains.

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  • 1Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0518, USA.


[URE3] is a non-Mendelian genetic element in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is caused by a prion-like, autocatalytic conversion of the Ure2 protein (Ure2p) into an inactive form. The presence of [URE3] allows yeast cells to take up ureidosuccinic acid in the presence of ammonia. This phenotype can be used to select for the prion state. We have developed a novel reporter, in which the ADE2 gene is controlled by the DAL5 regulatory region, which allows monitoring of Ure2p function by a colony color phenotype. Using this reporter, we observed induction of different [URE3] prion variants ("strains") following overexpression of the N-terminal Ure2p prion domain (UPD) or full-length Ure2p. Full-length Ure2p induced two types of [URE3]: type A corresponds to conventional [URE3], whereas the novel type B variant is characterized by relatively high residual Ure2p activity and efficient curing by coexpression of low amounts of a UPD-green fluorescent protein fusion protein. Overexpression of UPD induced type B [URE3] but not type A. Both type A and B [URE3] strains, as well as weak and strong isolates of type A, were shown to stably maintain different prion strain characteristics. We suggest that these strain variants result from different modes of aggregation of similar Ure2p monomers. We also demonstrate a procedure to counterselect against the [URE3] state.

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