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Curr Genet. 1991 Nov;20(5):373-8.

PDC6, a weakly expressed pyruvate decarboxylase gene from yeast, is activated when fused spontaneously under the control of the PDC1 promoter.

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  • 1Institut für Mikrobiologie, Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, Federal Republic of Germany.


Three structural genes encode the pyruvate decarboxylase isoenzymes in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. PDC1 and PDC5 are active during glucose fermentation where PDC1 is expressed about six times more strongly than PDC5. Expression of PDC6 is weak and seems to be induced in ethanol medium. Consequently, pdc1 delta pdc5 delta double mutants do not ferment glucose and do not grow on glucose medium. Spontaneous mutants, derived from such a pdc1 pdc5 strain, were isolated which could again ferment glucose. They showed pyruvate decarboxylase activity due to a duplication of PDC6. The second copy of PDC6 was expressed under the control of the PDC1 promoter, which was still present in the pdc1 strain. However, the resulting PDC1-PDC6 fusion gene could only partially substitute for PDC1: to achieve normal growth and high pyruvate decarboxylase activity strains carrying PDC1-PDC6 required a functional PDC5 gene which is dispensable in a PDC1 wild-type background. Thus, expression of PDC5 depends on the state of the PDC1 locus: low in the PDC1 wild-type background and high in PDC1-PDC6 fusion strains and, as shown previously, in pdc1 mutants. The activation of PDC5 expression in PDC1-PDC6 strains may be due to particular properties of the PDC1-PDC6 fusion protein or simply to the weaker expression of PDC1-PDC6 in comparison to the wild-type PDC1 gene.

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