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Genome Biol Evol. 2015 Mar 11;7(4):969-84. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evv047.

Natural yeast promoter variants reveal epistasis in the generation of transcriptional-mediated noise and its potential benefit in stressful conditions.

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Laboratoire d'Ingénierie des Systèmes Biologiques et des Procédés, UMR CNRS 5504, UMR INRA 792, INSA/Université de Toulouse, France.
INRA, UMR 1083 Sciences Pour l'Œnologie, Montpellier, France.
Laboratoire d'Ingénierie des Systèmes Biologiques et des Procédés, UMR CNRS 5504, UMR INRA 792, INSA/Université de Toulouse, France


The increase in phenotypic variability through gene expression noise is proposed to be an evolutionary strategy in selective environments. Differences in promoter-mediated noise between Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains could have been selected for thanks to the benefit conferred by gene expression heterogeneity in the stressful conditions, for instance, those experienced by industrial strains. Here, we used a genome-wide approach to identify promoters conferring high noise levels in the industrial wine strain EC1118. Many promoters of genes related to environmental factors were identified, some of them containing genetic variations compared with their counterpart in the laboratory strain S288c. Each variant of eight promoters has been fused to yeast-Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein and integrated in the genome of both strains. Some industrial variants conferred higher expression associated, as expected, with lower noise, but other variants either increased or decreased expression without modifying variability, so that they might exhibit different levels of transcriptional-mediated noise at equal mean. At different induction conditions giving similar expression for both variants of the CUP1 promoter, we indeed observed higher noise with the industrial variant. Nevertheless, this difference was only observed in the industrial strain, revealing epistasis in the generation of promoter-mediated noise. Moreover, the increased expression variability conferred by this natural yeast promoter variant provided a clear benefit in the face of an environmental stress. Thus, modulation of gene expression noise by a combination of promoter modifications and trans-influences might be a possible adaptation mechanism in yeast.


copper; industrial wine yeast; phenotypic variability and heterogeneity; stochastic gene expression; stress resistance and tolerance

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