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Genetics. 2000 Sep;156(1):45-58.

Zinc-regulated genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae revealed by transposon tagging.

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Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287-2631, USA.


The biochemistry of human nutritional zinc deficiency remains poorly defined. To characterize in genetic terms how cells respond to zinc deprivation, zinc-regulated genes (ZRG's) were identified in yeast. Gene expression was probed using random lacZ reporter gene fusions, integrated by transposon tagging into a diploid genome as previously described. About half of the genome was examined. Cells exhibiting differences in lacZ expression on low or moderate ( approximately 0. 1 vs. 10 microm) zinc media were isolated and the gene fusions were sequenced. Ribonuclease protection assays demonstrated four- to eightfold increases for the RNAs of the ZAP1, ZRG17 (YNR039c), DPP1, ADH4, MCD4, and YEF3B genes in zinc-deficient cells. All but YEF3B were shown through reporter gene assays to be controlled by a master regulator of zinc homeostasis now known to be encoded by ZAP1. ZAP1 mutants lacked the flocculence and distended vacuoles characteristic of zinc-deficient cells, suggesting that flocculation and vacuolation serve homeostatic functions in zinc-deficient cells. ZRG17 mutants required extra zinc supplementation to repress these phenotypes, suggesting that ZRG17 functions in zinc uptake. These findings illustrate the utility of transposon tagging as an approach for studying regulated gene expression in yeast.

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