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Genes Dev. 2008 Jun 15;22(12):1704-16. doi: 10.1101/gad.1640008.

Interspecies variation reveals a conserved repressor of alpha-specific genes in Saccharomyces yeasts.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

Abstract

The mating-type determination circuit in Saccharomyces yeast serves as a classic paradigm for the genetic control of cell type in all eukaryotes. Using comparative genetics, we discovered a central and conserved, yet previously undetected, component of this genetic circuit: active repression of alpha-specific genes in a cells. Upon inactivation of the SUM1 gene in Saccharomyces bayanus, a close relative of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a cells acquired mating characteristics of alpha cells and displayed autocrine activation of their mating response pathway. Sum1 protein bound to the promoters of alpha-specific genes, repressing their transcription. In contrast to the standard model, alpha1 was important but not required for alpha-specific gene activation and mating of alpha cells in the absence of Sum1. Neither Sum1 protein expression, nor its association with target promoters was mating-type-regulated. Thus, the alpha1/Mcm1 coactivators did not overcome repression by occluding Sum1 binding to DNA. Surprisingly, the mating-type regulatory function of Sum1 was conserved in S. cerevisiae. We suggest that a comprehensive understanding of some genetic pathways may be best attained through the expanded phenotypic space provided by study of those pathways in multiple related organisms.

PMID:
18559484
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2428066
Free PMC Article

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