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Curr Genet. 2000 May;37(5):277-84.

A screen of yeast respiratory mutants for sensitivity against the mycotoxin citrinin identifies the vacuolar ATPase as an essential factor for the toxicity mechanism.

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Botanisches Institut I, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany.


In countries with a hot climate the mycotoxin citrinin represents a serious problem in fungal food-poisoning. In humans the renal system is affected the most and the mitochondrial respiratory chain was identified as a possible sensitive target for this toxin. In addition, citrinin has an antifungal activity that also inhibits the growth of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. So far the precise mode of action and the subcellular targets for citrinin have not been identified. Therefore, we decided to use the model organism yeast for a genetic approach to identify genes that play a role in the sensitivity against this mycotoxin. A large collection of conditional respiratory deficient yeast mutants was screened for sensitivity against citrinin. One special pet-ts mutant was identified that exhibited a higher sensitivity against citrinin. The genetic system of yeast allowed the isolation of the respective wild-type gene. This yeast gene encodes the Vph2p subunit that is essential for the correct assembly of the vacuolar ATPase. Isolation of the mutated gene and gene-disruption experiments of VPH2 and the partially overlapping small YKL118W gene verified this finding. The wild-type VPH2 gene restores all defects of the mutants. In contrast to this, YKL118W gave no complementation and the null mutant showed no phenotype. Thereby the yeast vacuolar ATPase was found to be important for the toxic effect of citrinin in yeast cells. The consequences of this finding for the molecular mechanism of citrinin action and its relation to the mitochondrial respiratory chain are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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