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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1997 Dec;61(4):503-32.

Metabolism of sulfur amino acids in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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


Sulfur amino acid biosynthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae involves a large number of enzymes required for the de novo biosynthesis of methionine and cysteine and the recycling of organic sulfur metabolites. This review summarizes the details of these processes and analyzes the molecular data which have been acquired in this metabolic area. Sulfur biochemistry appears not to be unique through terrestrial life, and S. cerevisiae is one of the species of sulfate-assimilatory organisms possessing a larger set of enzymes for sulfur metabolism. The review also deals with several enzyme deficiencies that lead to a nutritional requirement for organic sulfur, although they do not correspond to defects within the biosynthetic pathway. In S. cerevisiae, the sulfur amino acid biosynthetic pathway is tightly controlled: in response to an increase in the amount of intracellular S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet), transcription of the coregulated genes is turned off. The second part of the review is devoted to the molecular mechanisms underlying this regulation. The coordinated response to AdoMet requires two cis-acting promoter elements. One centers on the sequence TCACGTG, which also constitutes a component of all S. cerevisiae centromeres. Situated upstream of the sulfur genes, this element is the binding site of a transcription activation complex consisting of a basic helix-loop-helix factor, Cbf1p, and two basic leucine zipper factors, Met4p and Met28p. Molecular studies have unraveled the specific functions for each subunit of the Cbf1p-Met4p-Met28p complex as well as the modalities of its assembly on the DNA. The Cbf1p-Met4p-Met28p complex contains only one transcription activation module, the Met4p subunit. Detailed mutational analysis of Met4p has elucidated its functional organization. In addition to its activation and bZIP domains, Met4p contains two regulatory domains, called the inhibitory region and the auxiliary domain. When the level of intracellular AdoMet increases, the transcription activation function of Met4 is prevented by Met30p, which binds to the Met4 inhibitory region. In addition to the Cbf1p-Met4p-Met28p complex, transcriptional regulation involves two zinc finger-containing proteins, Met31p and Met32p. The AdoMet-mediated control of the sulfur amino acid pathway illustrates the molecular strategies used by eucaryotic cells to couple gene expression to metabolic changes.

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