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Mol Cell Biol. 1994 Dec;14(12):8155-65.

Heat shock transcription factor activates yeast metallothionein gene expression in response to heat and glucose starvation via distinct signalling pathways.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0606.


Metallothioneins constitute a class of low-molecular-weight, cysteine-rich metal-binding stress proteins which are biosynthetically regulated at the level of gene transcription in response to metals, hormones, cytokines, and other physiological and environmental stresses. In this report, we demonstrate that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae metallothionein gene, designated CUP1, is transcriptionally activated in response to heat shock and glucose starvation through the action of heat shock transcription factor (HSF) and a heat shock element located within the CUP1 promoter upstream regulatory region. CUP1 gene activation in response to both stresses occurs rapidly; however, heat shock activates CUP1 gene expression transiently, whereas glucose starvation activates CUP1 gene expression in a sustained manner for at least 2.5 h. Although a carboxyl-terminal HSF transcriptional activation domain is critical for the activation of CUP1 transcription in response to both heat shock stress and glucose starvation, this region is dispensable for transient heat shock activation of at least two genes encoding members of the S. cerevisiae hsp70 family. Furthermore, inactivation of the chromosomal SNF1 gene, encoding a serine-threonine protein kinase, or the SNF4 gene, encoding a SNF1 cofactor, abolishes CUP1 transcriptional activation in response to glucose starvation without altering heat shock-induced transcription. These studies demonstrate that the S. cerevisiae HSF responds to multiple, distinct stimuli to activate yeast metallothionein gene transcription and that these stimuli elicit responses through nonidentical, genetically separable signalling pathways.

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