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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2002 Aug;26(3):223-38.

Transmitting the signal of excess nitrogen in Saccharomyces cerevisiae from the Tor proteins to the GATA factors: connecting the dots.

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Department of Molecular Sciences, University of Tennessee, 858 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


Major advances have recently occurred in our understanding of GATA factor-mediated, nitrogen catabolite repression (NCR)-sensitive gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Under nitrogen-rich conditions, the GATA family transcriptional activators, Gln3 and Gat1, form complexes with Ure2, and are localized to the cytoplasm, which decreases NCR-sensitive expression. Under nitrogen-limiting conditions, Gln3 and Gat1 are dephosphorylated, move from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, in wild-type but not rna1 and srp1 mutants, and increase expression of NCR-sensitive genes. 'Induction' of NCR-sensitive gene expression and dephosphorylation of Gln3 (and Ure2 in some laboratories) when cells are treated with rapamycin implicates the Tor1/2 signal transduction pathway in this regulation. Mks1 is posited to be a negative regulator of Ure2, positive regulator of retrograde gene expression and to be itself negatively regulated by Tap42. In addition to Tap42, phosphatases Sit4 and Pph3 are also argued by some to participate in the regulatory pathway. Although a treasure trove of information has recently become available, much remains unknown (and sometimes controversial) with respect to the precise biochemical functions and regulatory pathway connections of Tap42, Sit4, Pph3, Mks1 and Ure2, and how precisely Gln3 and Gat1 are prevented from entering the nucleus. The purpose of this review is to provide background information needed by students and investigators outside of the field to follow and evaluate the rapidly evolving literature in this exciting field.

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