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J Mol Biol. 2002 Apr 26;318(2):251-60.

Regulation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae FET4 by oxygen and iron.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae expresses two distinct iron transport systems under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. The high affinity transporters, Ftr1p and Fet3p, are primarily expressed in oxygenated cultures, whereas anaerobic conditions induce the low affinity iron transporter, Fet4p. The oxygen regulation of FET4 was found to involve the Rox1p transcriptional repressor. The physiological significance of this control by Rox1p is twofold. First, FET4 repression by Rox1p under oxygenated conditions helps minimize metal toxicity. Sensitivity towards cadmium was high in either anaerobically grown wild-type yeast or in oxygenated rox1Delta strains, and in both cases cadmium toxicity was reversed by FET4 mutations. Secondly, the loss of Rox1p repression under anaerobic conditions serves to induce FET4 and facilitate continual accumulation of iron. We noted that fet4 mutants accumulate lower levels of iron under anaerobic conditions. Regulation of FET4 was examined using FET4-lacZ reporters. We found that FET4 contains a complex promoter regulated both by oxygen and iron status. The region surrounding approximately -960 to -490 contains two consensus Rox1p binding sites and mediates Rox1p, but not iron control of FET4. Sequences downstream of -490 harbor a consensus binding site for the iron regulatory factor Aft1p that is essential for iron regulation in wild-type strains. In addition, a secondary mode of iron regulation becomes evident in strains lacking AFT1. The induction by iron limitation in conjunction with low oxygen is more than additive, suggesting that these activities are synergistic. Fet4p is not the only metal transporter that is negatively regulated by oxygen; we find that Rox1p also represses S. cerevisiae SMF3, proposed to function in vacuolar iron transport. This oxygen control of iron transporter gene expression is part of an adaptation response to changes in the redox state of transition metals.

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