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Sci Rep. 2014 Dec 2;4:7280. doi: 10.1038/srep07280.

Pleiotropy of the de novo-originated gene MDF1.

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State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Kunming, Yunnan 650223, People's Republic of China.
Key Laboratory of Systems Microbial Biotechnology, Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences(CAS), Tianjin 300308, People's Republic of China.


MDF1 is a young de novo-originated gene from a non-coding sequence in baker's yeast, S. cerevisiae, which can suppress mating and promote vegetative growth. Our previous experiments successfully demonstrated how Mdf1p binds to the key mating pathway determinant MATα2 to suppress mating. However, how Mdf1p promotes growth and fulfills the crosstalk between the yeast mating and growth pathways are still open questions. Thus, the adaptive significance of this new de novo gene remains speculative. Here, we show that Mdf1p shortens the lag phase of S. cerevisiae by physically interacting with SNF1, the governing factor for nonfermentable carbon source utilization, and thereby confers a selective advantage on yeasts through the rapid consumption of glucose in the early generational stage in rich medium. Therefore, MDF1 functions in two important molecular pathways, mating and fermentation, and mediates the crosstalk between reproduction and vegetative growth. Together, our results provide a comprehensive example of how a de novo-originated gene organizes new regulatory circuits and thereby confers a selective advantage on S. cerevisiae to allow exquisite adaptation to the changing environment.

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