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EMBO J. 1989 Jan;8(1):255-60.

The CUP2 gene product regulates the expression of the CUP1 gene, coding for yeast metallothionein.

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Department of Genetics, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


The yeast CUP1 gene codes for a copper-binding protein similar to metallothionein. Copper sensitive cup1s strains contain a single copy of the CUP1 locus. Resistant strains (CUP1r) carry 12 or more multiple tandem copies. We isolated 12 ethyl methane sulfonate-induced copper sensitive mutants in a wild-type CUP1r parental strain, X2180-1A. Most mutants reduce the copper resistance phenotype only slightly. However, the mutant cup2 lowers resistance by nearly two orders of magnitude. We cloned CUP2 by molecular complementation. The smallest subcloned fragment conferring function was approximately 2.1 kb. We show that CUP2, which is on chromosome VII, codes for or controls the synthesis or activity of a protein which binds the upstream control region of the CUP1 gene on chromosome VIII. Mutant cup2 cells produced extremely low levels of CUP1-specific mRNA, with or without added copper ions and lacked a factor which binds to the CUP1 promoter. Integrated at the cup2 site, the CUP2 plasmid restored the basal level and inducibility of CUP1 expression and led to reappearance of the CUP1-promoter binding factor. Taken collectively, our data establish CUP2 as a regulatory gene for expression of the CUP1 metallothionein gene product.

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