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Mol Cell Biol. 1987 Sep;7(9):3185-93.

Identification of sequence elements that confer cell-type-specific control of MF alpha 1 expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Mitsubishi-Kasei Institute of Life Sciences, Tokyo, Japan.


The MF alpha 1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a major structural gene for mating pheromone alpha factor, is an alpha-specific gene whose expression is regulated by the mating-type locus. To study the role of sequences upstream of MF alpha 1 in its expression and regulation, we generated two sets of promoter deletions: upstream deletions and internal deletions. By analyzing these deletions, we have identified a TATA box and two closely related, tandemly arranged upstream activation sites as necessary elements for MF alpha 1 expression. Two upstream activation sites were located ca. 300 and 250 base pairs upstream of the MF alpha 1 transcription start points, which were also determined in this study. Each site contained a homologous 22-base-pair sequence, and both sites were required for maximum transcription level. The distance between the upstream activation sites and the transcription start points could be altered without causing loss of transcription efficiency, and the sites were active in either orientation with respect to the coding region. These elements conferred cell type-specific expression on a heterologous promoter. Analysis with host mating-type locus mutants indicates that these sequences are the sites through which the MAT alpha 1 product exerts its action to activate the MF alpha 1 gene. Homologous sequences with these elements were found in other alpha-specific genes, MF alpha 2 and STE3, and may mediate activation of this set of genes by MAT alpha 1.

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