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Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Aug;38(15):4998-5014. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq257. Epub 2010 Apr 14.

Transcriptional plasticity through differential assembly of a multiprotein activation complex.

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  • 1CNRS, Centre de Génétique Moléculaire, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


Cell adaptation to the environment often involves induction of complex gene expression programs under the control of specific transcriptional activators. For instance, in response to cadmium, budding yeast induces transcription of the sulfur amino acid biosynthetic genes through the basic-leucine zipper activator Met4, and also launches a program of substitution of abundant glycolytic enzymes by isozymes with a lower content in sulfur. We demonstrate here that transcriptional induction of PDC6, which encodes a pyruvate decarboxylase isoform with low sulfur content, is directly controlled by Met4 and its DNA-binding cofactors the basic-helix-loop-helix protein Cbf1 and the two homologous zinc finger proteins Met31 and Met32. Study of Cbf1 and Met31/32 association with PDC6 allowed us to find a new mechanism of recruitment of Met4, which allows PDC6 being differentially regulated compared to sulfur amino acid biosynthetic genes. Our findings provide a new example of mechanism allowing transcriptional plasticity within a regulatory network thanks to a definite toolbox comprising a unique master activator and several dedicated DNA-binding cofactors. We also show evidence suggesting that integration of PDC6 to the Met4 regulon may have occurred recently in the evolution of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae lineage.

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