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Mol Cell. 2000 Jan;5(1):163-72.

Rnq1: an epigenetic modifier of protein function in yeast.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Two protein-based genetic elements (prions) have been identified in yeast. It is not clear whether other prions exist, nor is it understood how one might find them. We established criteria for searching protein databases for prion candidates and found several. The first examined, Rnq1, exists in distinct, heritable physical states, soluble and insoluble. The insoluble state is dominant and transmitted between cells through the cytoplasm. When the prion-like region of Rnq1 was substituted for the prion domain of Sup35, the protein determinant of the prion [PSI+], the phenotypic and epigenetic behavior of [PSI+] was fully recapitulated. These findings identity Rnq1 as a prion, demonstrate that prion domains are modular and transferable, and establish a paradigm for identifying and characterizing novel prions.

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