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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Apr 25;92(9):3784-8.

The ATX1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes a small metal homeostasis factor that protects cells against reactive oxygen toxicity.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


In aerobic organisms, protection against oxidative damage involves the combined action of highly specialized antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of another gene in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that plays a critical role in detoxification of reactive oxygen species. This gene, named ATX1, was originally isolated by its ability to suppress oxygen toxicity in yeast lacking SOD. ATX1 encodes a 8.2-kDa polypeptide exhibiting significant similarity and identity to various bacterial metal transporters. Potential ATX1 homologues were also identified in multicellular eukaryotes, including the plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In yeast cells, ATX1 evidently acts in the transport and/or partitioning of copper, and this role in copper homeostasis appears to be directly relevant to the ATX1 suppression of oxygen toxicity: ATX1 was incapable of compensating for SOD when cells were depleted of exogenous copper. Strains containing a deletion in the chromosomal ATX1 locus were generated. Loss of ATX1 function rendered both mutant and wild-type SOD strains hypersensitive toward paraquat (a generator of superoxide anion) and was also associated with an increased sensitivity toward hydrogen peroxide. Hence, ATX1 protects cells against the toxicity of both superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide.

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