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Gene. 1994 May 27;143(1):139-43.

Switching gene swi6, involved in repression of silent mating-type loci in fission yeast, encodes a homologue of chromatin-associated proteins from Drosophila and mammals.

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Institut für Genetik, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany.


The switching gene swi6 of Schizosaccharomyces pombe is involved in the repression of the silent mating-type loci mat2 and mat3. We have cloned the gene by functional complementation of the switching defect of the swi6-115 mutation. DNA sequence analyses revealed an open reading frame of 984 bp coding for a putative protein of 328 amino acids (aa). The isolation of a swi6 cDNA confirmed this result. Gene replacement showed that swi6 is not essential for viability. The Swi6 protein is very hydrophilic; it contains 41% charged aa. A region of 48 aa is homologous to a sequence motif found in the chromatin-associated proteins, HP1 and Polycomb (Drosophila melanogaster), M31, M32 and M33 (mouse), and the human HSM1 protein. This motif is called chromo domain (chromatin organization modifier). Our results indicate that Swi6 is a structural component of chromatin. Swi6 may have the function to compact mat2 and mat3 into a heterochromatin-like conformation which represses the transcription of these silent cassettes.

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