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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Jan;39(1):37-46.

The relationship between visible intracellular aggregates that appear after overexpression of Sup35 and the yeast prion-like elements [PSI(+)] and [PIN(+)].

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Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60607, USA.


Overproduced fusions of Sup35 or its prion domain with green fluorescent protein (GFP) have previously been shown to form frequent dots in [PSI(+)] cells. Rare foci seen in [psi(-)] cells were hypothesized to indicate the de novo induction of [PSI(+)] caused by the overproduced prion domain. Here, we describe novel ring-type aggregates that also appear in [psi(-)] cultures upon Sup35 overproduction and show directly that dot and ring aggregates only appear in cells that have become [PSI(+)]. The formation of either type of aggregate requires [PIN(+)], an element needed for the induction of [PSI(+)]. Although aggregates are visible predominantly in stationary-phase cultures, [PSI(+)] induction starts in exponential phase, suggesting that much smaller aggregates can also propagate [PSI(+)]. Such small aggregates are probably present in [PSI(+)] cells and, upon Sup35-GFP overproduction, facilitate the frequent formation of dot aggregates, but only the occasional appearance of ring aggregates. In contrast, rings are very frequent when [PSI(+)] cultures, including those lacking [PIN(+)], are grown in the presence of GuHCl or excess Hsp104 while overexpressing Sup35-GFP. Thus, intermediates formed during [PSI(+)] curing seem to facilitate ring formation. Surprisingly, GuHCl and excess Hsp104, which are known to promote loss of [PSI(+)], did not prevent the de novo induction of [PSI(+)] by excess Sup35 in [psi(-)][PIN(+)] strains.

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