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Mol Gen Genet. 1986 Dec;205(3):417-21.

The yeast 2 micron plasmid: strategies for the survival of a selfish DNA.


The designation of the yeast 2 mu circle as a "selfish" DNA molecule has been confirmed by demonstrating that the plasmid is lost with exponential kinetics from haploid yeast populations grown in continuous culture. We show that plasmid-free yeast cells have a growth rate advantage of some 1.5%-3% over their plasmid-containing counterparts. This finding makes the ubiquity of this selfish DNA in yeast strains puzzling. Two other factors probably account for its survival. First, the rate of plasmid loss was reduced by allowing haploid populations to enter stationary phase periodically. Second, it was not possible to isolate a plasmid-free segregant from a diploid yeast strain. Competition experiments demonstrated that stability in a diploid is conferred at the level of segregation and that plasmid-free diploid cells are at a selective advantage compared with their plasmid-containing counterparts. Yeast cells in nature are usually homothallic and must frequently pass through both diploid and stationary phases. The 2 mu plasmid appears to have evolved a survival strategy which exploits these two features of its host's life cycle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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