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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(3):e1002546. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002546. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

Genetic basis of hidden phenotypic variation revealed by increased translational readthrough in yeast.

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  • 1Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.


Eukaryotic release factors 1 and 3, encoded by SUP45 and SUP35, respectively, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, are required for translation termination. Recent studies have shown that, besides these two key factors, several genetic and epigenetic mechanisms modulate the efficiency of translation termination. These mechanisms, through modifying translation termination fidelity, were shown to affect various cellular processes, such as mRNA degradation, and in some cases could confer a beneficial phenotype to the cell. The most studied example of such a mechanism is [PSI+], the prion conformation of Sup35p, which can have pleiotropic effects on growth that vary among different yeast strains. However, genetic loci underlying such readthrough-dependent, background-specific phenotypes have yet to be identified. Here, we used sup35(C653R), a partial loss-of-function allele of the SUP35 previously shown to increase readthrough of stop codons and recapitulate some [PSI+]-dependent phenotypes, to study the genetic basis of phenotypes revealed by increased translational readthrough in two divergent yeast strains: BY4724 (a laboratory strain) and RM11_1a (a wine strain). We first identified growth conditions in which increased readthrough of stop codons by sup35(C653R) resulted in different growth responses between these two strains. We then used a recently developed linkage mapping technique, extreme QTL mapping (X-QTL), to identify readthrough-dependent loci for the observed growth differences. We further showed that variation in SKY1, an SR protein kinase, underlies a readthrough-dependent locus observed for growth on diamide and hydrogen peroxide. We found that the allelic state of SKY1 interacts with readthrough level and the genetic background to determine growth rate in these two conditions.

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