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Mol Cell Biol. 1999 Jun;19(6):4324-33.

A new class of repression modules is critical for heme regulation of the yeast transcriptional activator Hap1.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, NYU Medical Center, New York, New York 10016, USA.


Heme plays key regulatory roles in numerous molecular and cellular processes for systems that sense or use oxygen. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, oxygen sensing and heme signaling are mediated by heme activator protein 1 (Hap1). Hap1 contains seven heme-responsive motifs (HRMs): six are clustered in the heme domain, and a seventh is near the activation domain. To determine the functional role of HRMs and to define which parts of Hap1 mediate heme regulation, we carried out a systematic analysis of Hap1 mutants with various regions deleted or mutated. Strikingly, the data show that HRM1 to -6, located in the previously designated Hap1 heme domain, have little impact on heme regulation. All seven HRMs are dispensable for Hap1 repression in the absence of heme, but HRM7 is required for Hap1 activation by heme. More importantly, we show that a novel class of repression modules-RPM1, encompassing residues 245 to 278; RPM2, encompassing residues 1061 to 1185; and RPM3, encompassing residues 203 to 244-is critical for Hap1 repression in the absence of heme. Biochemical analysis indicates that RPMs mediate Hap1 repression, at least partly, by the formation of a previously identified higher-order complex termed the high-molecular-weight complex (HMC), while HRMs mediate heme activation by permitting heme binding and the disassembly of the HMC. These findings provide significant new insights into the molecular interactions critical for Hap1 repression in the absence of heme and Hap1 activation by heme.

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