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Yeast. 1997 Dec;13(16):1563-73.

Suitability of replacement markers for functional analysis studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Biomolecular Sciences, UMIST, Manchester, U.K.


The complete yeast sequence contains a large proportion of genes whose biological function is completely unknown. One approach to elucidating the function of these novel genes is by quantitative methods that exploit the concepts of metabolic control analysis. An important first step in such an analysis is to determine the effects of deleting individual genes on the growth rate (or fitness) of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Since the specific growth-rate effects of most genes are likely to be small, they are most readily determined by competition against a standard strain in chemostat cultures where the true steady state demanded by metabolic control analysis may be achieved. We have constructed two different standard strains in which the HO gene is replaced by either HIS3 or kanMX. We demonstrate that HO is a selectively neutral site for gene replacement. However, there is a significant marker effect associated with HIS3 which, moreover, is dependent on the physiological conditions used for the competition experiments. In contrast, the kanMX marker exhibited only a small effect on specific growth rate (< or = +/- 4%). These data suggest that nutritional markers should not be used to generate deletion mutants for the quantitative analysis of gene function in yeast but that kanMX replacements may be used, with confidence, for such studies.

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