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Mol Cell Biol. 1991 Mar;11(3):1232-8.

Heat shock transcription factor activates transcription of the yeast metallothionein gene.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0606.


In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, transcription of the metallothionein gene CUP1 is induced by copper and silver. Strains with a complete deletion of the ACE1 gene, the copper-dependent activator of CUP1 transcription, are hypersensitive to copper. These strains have a low but significant basal level of CUP1 transcription. To identify genes which mediate basal transcription of CUP1 or which activate CUP1 in response to other stimuli, we isolated an extragenic suppressor of an ace1 deletion. We demonstrate that a single amino acid substitution in the heat shock transcription factor (HSF) DNA-binding domain dramatically enhances CUP1 transcription while reducing transcription of the SSA3 gene, a member of the yeast hsp70 gene family. These results indicate that yeast metallothionein transcription is under HSF control and that metallothionein biosynthesis is important in response to heat shock stress. Furthermore, our results suggest that HSF may modulate the magnitude of individual heat shock gene transcription by subtle differences in its interaction with heat shock elements and that a single-amino-acid change can dramatically alter the activity of the factor for different target genes.

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