Ethanol toxicity in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae limits titer and productivity in the industrial production of transportation bioethanol. We show that strengthening the opposing potassium and proton electrochemical membrane gradients is a mechanism that enhances general resistance to multiple alcohols. The elevation of extracellular potassium and pH physically bolsters these gradients, increasing tolerance to higher alcohols and ethanol fermentation in commercial and laboratory strains (including a xylose-fermenting strain) under industrial-like conditions. Production per cell remains largely unchanged, with improvements deriving from heightened population viability. Likewise, up-regulation of the potassium and proton pumps in the laboratory strain enhances performance to levels exceeding those of industrial strains. Although genetically complex, alcohol tolerance can thus be dominated by a single cellular process, one controlled by a major physicochemical component but amenable to biological augmentation.
Pseudouridine is the most abundant RNA modification, yet except for a few well-studied cases, little is known about the modified positions and their function(s). Here, we develop ?-seq for transcriptome-wide quantitative mapping of pseudouridine. We validate ?-seq with spike-ins and de novo identification of previously reported positions and discover hundreds of unique sites in human and yeast mRNAs and snoRNAs. Perturbing pseudouridine synthases (PUS) uncovers which pseudouridine synthase modifies each site and their target sequence features. mRNA pseudouridinylation depends on both site-specific and snoRNA-guided pseudouridine synthases. Upon heat shock in yeast, Pus7p-mediated pseudouridylation is induced at >200 sites, and PUS7 deletion decreases the levels of otherwise pseudouridylated mRNA, suggesting a role in enhancing transcript stability. rRNA pseudouridine stoichiometries are conserved but reduced in cells from dyskeratosis congenita patients, where the PUS DKC1 is mutated. Our work identifies an enhanced, transcriptome-wide scope for pseudouridine and methods to dissect its underlying mechanisms and function.
The measurement of any nonchromosomal genetic contribution to the heritability of a trait is often confounded by the inability to control both the chromosomal and nonchromosomal information in a population. We have designed a unique system in yeast where we can control both sources of information so that the phenotype of a single chromosomal polymorphism can be measured in the presence of different cytoplasmic elements. With this system, we have shown that both the source of the mitochondrial genome and the presence or absence of a dsRNA virus influence the phenotype of chromosomal variants that affect the growth of yeast. Moreover, by considering this nonchromosomal information that is passed from parent to offspring and by allowing chromosomal and nonchromosomal information to exhibit nonadditive interactions, we are able to account for much of the heritability of growth traits. Taken together, our results highlight the importance of including all sources of heritable information in genetic studies and suggest a possible avenue of attack for finding additional missing heritability.
Phenotyping single cells based on the products they secrete or consume is a key bottleneck in many biotechnology applications, such as combinatorial metabolic engineering for the overproduction of secreted metabolites. Here we present a flexible high-throughput approach that uses microfluidics to compartmentalize individual cells for growth and analysis in monodisperse nanoliter aqueous droplets surrounded by an immiscible fluorinated oil phase. We use this system to identify xylose-overconsuming Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells from a population containing one such cell per 10(4) cells and to screen a genomic library to identify multiple copies of the xylose isomerase gene as a genomic change contributing to high xylose consumption, a trait important for lignocellulosic feedstock utilization. We also enriched L-lactate-producing Escherichia coli clones 5,800× from a population containing one L-lactate producer per 10(4) D-lactate producers. Our approach has broad applications for single-cell analyses, such as in strain selection for the overproduction of fuels, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A) is the most ubiquitous mRNA base modification, but little is known about its precise location, temporal dynamics, and regulation. Here, we generated genomic maps of m(6)A sites in meiotic yeast transcripts at nearly single-nucleotide resolution, identifying 1,308 putatively methylated sites within 1,183 transcripts. We validated eight out of eight methylation sites in different genes with direct genetic analysis, demonstrated that methylated sites are significantly conserved in a related species, and built a model that predicts methylated sites directly from sequence. Sites vary in their methylation profiles along a dense meiotic time course and are regulated both locally, via predictable methylatability of each site, and globally, through the core meiotic circuitry. The methyltransferase complex components localize to the yeast nucleolus, and this localization is essential for mRNA methylation. Our data illuminate a conserved, dynamically regulated methylation program in yeast meiosis and provide an important resource for studying the function of this epitranscriptomic modification.
Phagocytosis of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans by cells of the innate immune system is vital to prevent infection. Dectin-1 is the major phagocytic receptor involved in anti-fungal immunity. We identify two new interacting proteins of Dectin-1 in macrophages, Brutons Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) and Vav1. BTK and Vav1 are recruited to phagocytic cups containing C. albicans yeasts or hyphae but are absent from mature phagosomes. BTK and Vav1 localize to cuff regions surrounding the hyphae, while Dectin-1 lines the full length of the phagosome. BTK and Vav1 colocalize with the lipid PI(3,4,5)P3 and F-actin at the phagocytic cup, but not with diacylglycerol (DAG) which marks more mature phagosomal membranes. Using a selective BTK inhibitor, we show that BTK contributes to DAG synthesis at the phagocytic cup and the subsequent recruitment of PKC?. BTK- or Vav1-deficient peritoneal macrophages display a defect in both zymosan and C. albicans phagocytosis. Bone marrow-derived macrophages that lack BTK or Vav1 show reduced uptake of C. albicans, comparable to Dectin1-deficient cells. BTK- or Vav1-deficient mice are more susceptible to systemic C. albicans infection than wild type mice. This work identifies an important role for BTK and Vav1 in immune responses against C. albicans.
Efforts to improve the production of a compound of interest in Saccharomyces cerevisiae have mainly involved engineering or overexpression of cytoplasmic enzymes. We show that targeting metabolic pathways to mitochondria can increase production compared with overexpression of the enzymes involved in the same pathways in the cytoplasm. Compartmentalization of the Ehrlich pathway into mitochondria increased isobutanol production by 260%, whereas overexpression of the same pathway in the cytoplasm only improved yields by 10%, compared with a strain overproducing enzymes involved in only the first three steps of the biosynthetic pathway. Subcellular fractionation of engineered strains revealed that targeting the enzymes of the Ehrlich pathway to the mitochondria achieves greater local enzyme concentrations. Other benefits of compartmentalization may include increased availability of intermediates, removing the need to transport intermediates out of the mitochondrion and reducing the loss of intermediates to competing pathways.
The generation of mature functional RNAs from nascent transcripts requires the precise and coordinated action of numerous RNAs and proteins. One such protein family, the ribonuclease III (RNase III) endonucleases, includes Rnt1, which functions in fungal ribosome and spliceosome biogenesis, and Dicer, which generates the siRNAs of the RNAi pathway. The recent discovery of small RNAs in Candida albicans led us to investigate the function of C. albicans Dicer (CaDcr1). CaDcr1 is capable of generating siRNAs in vitro and is required for siRNA generation in vivo. In addition, CaDCR1 complements a Dicer knockout in Saccharomyces castellii, restoring RNAi-mediated gene repression. Unexpectedly, deletion of the C. albicans CaDCR1 results in a severe slow-growth phenotype, whereas deletion of another core component of the RNAi pathway (CaAGO1) has little effect on growth, suggesting that CaDCR1 may have an essential function in addition to producing siRNAs. Indeed CaDcr1, the sole functional RNase III enzyme in C. albicans, has additional functions: it is required for cleavage of the 3 external transcribed spacer from unprocessed pre-rRNA and for processing the 3 tail of snRNA U4. Our results suggest two models whereby the RNase III enzymes of a fungal ancestor, containing both a canonical Dicer and Rnt1, evolved through a series of gene-duplication and gene-loss events to generate the variety of RNase III enzymes found in modern-day budding yeasts.
In this essay, we revisit the status of yeast as a model system for biology. We first summarize important contributions of yeast to eukaryotic biology that we anticipated in 1988 in our first article on the subject. We then describe transformative developments that we did not anticipate, most of which followed the publication of the complete genomic sequence of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in 1996. In the intervening 23 years it appears to us that yeast has graduated from a position as the premier model for eukaryotic cell biology to become the pioneer organism that has facilitated the establishment of the entirely new fields of study called "functional genomics" and "systems biology." These new fields look beyond the functions of individual genes and proteins, focusing on how these interact and work together to determine the properties of living cells and organisms.
The RNA interference (RNAi) pathway is found in most eukaryotic lineages but curiously is absent in others, including that of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We show that reconstituting RNAi in S. cerevisiae causes loss of a beneficial double-stranded RNA virus known as killer virus. Incompatibility between RNAi and killer viruses extends to other fungal species in that RNAi is absent in all species known to possess double-stranded RNA killer viruses, whereas killer viruses are absent in closely related species that retained RNAi. Thus, the advantage imparted by acquiring and retaining killer viruses explains the persistence of RNAi-deficient species during fungal evolution.
Dectin-1, the major ?-glucan receptor in leukocytes, triggers an effective immune response upon fungal recognition. Here we use sortase-mediated transpeptidation, a technique that allows placement of a variety of probes on a polypeptide backbone, to monitor the behavior of labeled functional dectin-1 in live cells with and without fungal challenge. Installation of probes on dectin-1 by sortagging permitted highly specific visualization of functional protein on the cell surface and its subsequent internalization upon ligand presentation. Retrieval of sortagged dectin-1 expressed in macrophages uncovered a unique interaction between dectin-1 and galectin-3 that functions in the proinflammatory response of macrophages to pathogenic fungi. When macrophages expressing dectin-1 are exposed to Candida albicans mutants with increased exposure of ?-glucan, the loss of galectin-3 dramatically accentuates the failure to trigger an appropriate TNF-? response.
STEREO is a novel algorithm that discovers cis-regulatory RNA interactions by assembling complete and potentially overlapping same-strand RNA transcripts from tiling expression data. STEREO first identifies coherent segments of transcription and then discovers individual transcripts that are consistent with the observed segments given intensity and shape constraints. We used STEREO to identify 1446 regions of overlapping transcription in two strains of yeast, including transcripts that comprise a new form of molecular toggle switch that controls gene variegation.
We generated a high-resolution whole-genome sequence and individually deleted 5100 genes in Sigma1278b, a Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain closely related to reference strain S288c. Similar to the variation between human individuals, Sigma1278b and S288c average 3.2 single-nucleotide polymorphisms per kilobase. A genome-wide comparison of deletion mutant phenotypes identified a subset of genes that were conditionally essential by strain, including 44 essential genes unique to Sigma1278b and 13 unique to S288c. Genetic analysis indicates the conditional phenotype was most often governed by complex genetic interactions, depending on multiple background-specific modifiers. Our comprehensive analysis suggests that the presence of a complex set of modifiers will often underlie the phenotypic differences between individuals.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae can divide asymmetrically so that the mother and daughter cells have different fates. We show that the RNA-binding protein Khd1 regulates asymmetric expression of FLO11 to determine daughter cell fate during filamentous growth. Khd1 represses transcription of FLO11 indirectly through its regulation of ASH1 mRNA. Khd1 also represses FLO11 through a post-transcriptional mechanism independent of ASH1. Cross-linking immunoprecipitation (CLIP) coupled with high-throughput sequencing shows that Khd1 directly binds repetitive sequences in FLO11 mRNA. Khd1 inhibits translation through this interaction, establishing feed-forward repression of FLO11. This regulation enables changes in FLO11 expression between mother and daughter cells, which establishes the asymmetry required for the developmental transition between yeast form and filamentous growth.
Cell size increases significantly with increasing ploidy. Differences in cell size and ploidy are associated with alterations in gene expression, although no direct connection has been made between cell size and transcription. Here we show that ploidy-associated changes in gene expression reflect transcriptional adjustment to a larger cell size, implicating cellular geometry as a key parameter in gene regulation. Using RNA-seq, we identified genes whose expression was altered in a tetraploid as compared with the isogenic haploid. A significant fraction of these genes encode cell surface proteins, suggesting an effect of the enlarged cell size on the differential regulation of these genes. To test this hypothesis, we examined expression of these genes in haploid mutants that also produce enlarged size. Surprisingly, many genes differentially regulated in the tetraploid are identically regulated in the enlarged haploids, and the magnitude of change in gene expression correlates with the degree of size enlargement. These results indicate a causal relationship between cell size and transcription, with a size-sensing mechanism that alters transcription in response to size. The genes responding to cell size are enriched for those regulated by two mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways, and components in those pathways were found to mediate size-dependent gene regulation. Transcriptional adjustment to enlarged cell size could underlie other cellular changes associated with polyploidy. The causal relationship between cell size and transcription suggests that cell size homeostasis serves a regulatory role in transcriptome maintenance.
As Saccharomyces cerevisiae is engineered further as a microbial factory for industrially relevant but potentially cytotoxic molecules such as ethanol, issues of cell viability arise that threaten to place a biological limit on output capacity and/or the use of less refined production conditions. Evidence suggests that one naturally evolved mode of survival in deleterious environments involves the complex, multigenic interplay between disparate stress response and homeostasis mechanisms. Rational engineering of such resistance would require a systems-level understanding of cellular behavior that is, in general, not yet available. To circumvent this limitation, we have developed a phenotype discovery approach termed global transcription machinery engineering (gTME) that allows for the generation and selection of nonphysiological traits. We alter gene expression on a genome-wide scale by selecting for dominant mutations in a randomly mutagenized general transcription factor. The gene encoding the mutated transcription factor resides on a plasmid in a strain carrying the unaltered chromosomal allele. Thus, although the dominant mutations may destroy the essential function of the plasmid-borne variant, alteration of the transcriptome with minimal perturbation to normal cellular processes is possible via the presence of the native genomic allele. Achieving a phenotype of interest involves the construction and diversity evaluation of yeast libraries harboring random sequence variants of a chosen transcription factor and the subsequent selection and validation of mutant strains. We describe the rationale and procedures associated with each step in the context of generating strains possessing enhanced ethanol tolerance.
The identification of specific functional roles for the numerous long noncoding (nc)RNAs found in eukaryotic transcriptomes is currently a matter of intense study amid speculation that these ncRNAs have key regulatory roles. We have identified a pair of cis-interfering ncRNAs in yeast that contribute to the control of variegated gene expression at the FLO11 locus by implementing a regulatory circuit that toggles between two stable states. These capped, polyadenylated ncRNAs are transcribed across the large intergenic region upstream of the FLO11 ORF. As with mammalian long intervening (li)ncRNAs, these yeast ncRNAs (ICR1 and PWR1) are themselves regulated by transcription factors (Sfl1 and Flo8) and chromatin remodelers (Rpd3L) that are key elements in phenotypic transitions in yeast. The mechanism that we describe explains the unanticipated role of a histone deacetylase complex in activating gene expression, because Rpd3L mutants force the ncRNA circuit into a state that silences the expression of the adjacent variegating gene.
RNA interference (RNAi), a gene-silencing pathway triggered by double-stranded RNA, is conserved in diverse eukaryotic species but has been lost in the model budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Here, we show that RNAi is present in other budding yeast species, including Saccharomyces castellii and Candida albicans. These species use noncanonical Dicer proteins to generate small interfering RNAs, which mostly correspond to transposable elements and Y subtelomeric repeats. In S. castellii, RNAi mutants are viable but have excess Y messenger RNA levels. In S. cerevisiae, introducing Dicer and Argonaute of S. castellii restores RNAi, and the reconstituted pathway silences endogenous retrotransposons. These results identify a previously unknown class of Dicer proteins, bring the tool of RNAi to the study of budding yeasts, and bring the tools of budding yeast to the study of RNAi.
Invasive fungal infections can be devastating, particularly in immunocompromised patients, and difficult to treat with systemic drugs. Furthermore, systemic administration of those medications can have severe side effects. We have developed an injectable local antifungal treatment for direct administration into existing or potential sites of fungal infection. Amphotericin B (AmB), a hydrophobic, potent, and broad-spectrum antifungal agent, was rendered water-soluble by conjugation to a dextran-aldehyde polymer. The dextran-aldehyde-AmB conjugate retained antifungal efficacy against Candida albicans. Mixing carboxymethylcellulose-hydrazide with dextran-aldehyde formed a gel that cross-linked in situ by formation of hydrazone bonds. The gel provided in vitro release of antifungal activity for 11 days, and contact with the gel killed Candida for three weeks. There was no apparent tissue toxicity in the murine peritoneum and the gel caused no adhesions. Gels produced by entrapment of a suspension of AmB in CMC-dextran without conjugation of drug to polymers did not release fungicidal activity, but did kill on contact. Injectable systems of these types, containing soluble or insoluble drug formulations, could be useful for treatment of local antifungal infections, with or without concurrent systemic therapy.
Eukaryotic microorganisms have evolved ingenious mechanisms to generate variability at their cell surface, permitting differential adherence, rapid adaptation to changing environments, and evasion of immune surveillance. Fungi such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the pathogen Candida albicans carry a family of mucin and adhesin genes that allow adhesion to various surfaces and tissues. Trypanosoma cruzi, T. brucei, and Plasmodium falciparum likewise contain large arsenals of different cell surface adhesion genes. In both yeasts and protozoa, silencing and differential expression of the gene family results in surface variability. Here, we discuss unexpected similarities in the structure and genomic location of the cell surface genes, the role of repeated DNA sequences, and the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms-all of which contribute to the remarkable cell surface variability in these highly divergent microbes.
The connection between genotype and phenotype was assessed by determining the adhesion phenotype for the same mutation in two closely related yeast strains, S288c and Sigma, using two identical deletion libraries. Previous studies, all in Sigma, had shown that the adhesion phenotype was controlled by the filamentation mitogen-activated kinase (fMAPK) pathway, which activates a set of transcription factors required for the transcription of the structural gene FLO11. Unexpectedly, the fMAPK pathway is not required for FLO11 transcription in S288c despite the fact that the fMAPK genes are present and active in other pathways. Using transformation and a sensitized reporter, it was possible to isolate RPI1, one of the modifiers that permits the bypass of the fMAPK pathway in S288c. RPI1 encodes a transcription factor with allelic differences between the two strains: The RPI1 allele from S288c but not the one from Sigma can confer fMAPK pathway-independent transcription of FLO11. Biochemical analysis reveals differences in phosphorylation between the alleles. At the nucleotide level the two alleles differ in the number of tandem repeats in the ORF. A comparison of genomes between the two strains shows that many genes differ in size due to variation in repeat length.
Our recent finding that the Candida albicans RNase III enzyme CaDcr1 is an unusual, multifunctional RNase III coupled with data on the RNase III enzymes from other fungal species prompted us to seek a model that explained the evolution of RNase IIIs in modern budding yeast species. CaDcr1 has both dicer function (generates small RNA molecules from dsRNA precursors) and Rnt1 function, (catalyzes the maturation of 35S rRNA and U4 snRNA). Some budding yeast species have two distinct genes that encode these functions, a Dicer and RNT1, whereas others have only an RNT1 and no Dicer. As none of the budding yeast species has the canonical Dicer found in many other fungal lineages and most eukaryotes, the extant species must have evolved from an ancestor that lost the canonical Dicer, and evolved a novel Dicer from the essential RNT1 gene. No single, simple model could explain the evolution of RNase III enzymes from this ancestor because existing sequence data are consistent with two equally plausible models. The models share an architecture for RNase III evolution that involves gene duplication, loss, subfunctionalization, and neofunctionalization. This commentary explains our reasoning, and offers the prospect that further genomic data could further resolve the dilemma surrounding the budding yeast RNase IIIs evolution.
The dimorphic switch from a single-cell budding yeast to a filamentous form enables Saccharomyces cerevisiae to forage for nutrients and the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans to invade human tissues and evade the immune system. We constructed a genome-wide set of targeted deletion alleles and introduced them into a filamentous S. cerevisiae strain, ?1278b. We identified genes involved in morphologically distinct forms of filamentation: haploid invasive growth, biofilm formation, and diploid pseudohyphal growth. Unique genes appear to underlie each program, but we also found core genes with general roles in filamentous growth, including MFG1 (YDL233w), whose product binds two morphogenetic transcription factors, Flo8 and Mss11, and functions as a critical transcriptional regulator of filamentous growth in both S. cerevisiae and C. albicans.
Despite the known relevance of genomic structural variants to pathogen behavior, cancer, development, and evolution, certain repeat based structural variants may evade detection by existing high-throughput techniques. Here, we present ruler arrays, a technique to detect genomic structural variants including insertions and deletions (indels), duplications, and translocations. A ruler array exploits DNA polymerases processivity to detect physical distances between defined genomic sequences regardless of the intervening sequence. The method combines a sample preparation protocol, tiling genomic microarrays, and a new computational analysis. The analysis of ruler array data from two genomic samples enables the identification of structural variation between the samples. In an empirical test between two closely related haploid strains of yeast ruler arrays detected 78% of the structural variants larger than 100 bp.
Xylose is the main pentose and second most abundant sugar in lignocellulosic feedstocks. To improve xylose utilization, necessary for the cost-effective bioconversion of lignocellulose, several metabolic engineering approaches have been employed in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In this study, we describe the rational metabolic engineering of a S. cerevisiae strain, including overexpression of the Piromyces xylose isomerase gene (XYLA), Pichia stipitis xylulose kinase (XYL3) and genes of the non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). This engineered strain (H131-A3) was used to initialize a three-stage process of evolutionary engineering, through first aerobic and anaerobic sequential batch cultivation followed by growth in a xylose-limited chemostat. The evolved strain H131-A3-AL(CS) displayed significantly increased anaerobic growth rate (0.203±0.006 h?¹) and xylose consumption rate (1.866 g g?¹ h?¹) along with high ethanol conversion yield (0.41 g/g). These figures exceed by a significant margin any other performance metrics on xylose utilization and ethanol production by S. cerevisiae reported to-date. Further inverse metabolic engineering based on functional complementation suggested that efficient xylose assimilation is attributed, in part, to the elevated expression level of xylose isomerase, which was accomplished through the multiple-copy integration of XYLA in the chromosome of the evolved strain.
For the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, nutrient limitation is a key developmental signal causing diploid cells to switch from yeast-form budding to either foraging pseudohyphal (PH) growth or meiosis and sporulation. Prolonged starvation leads to lineage restriction, such that cells exiting meiotic prophase are committed to complete sporulation even if nutrients are restored. Here, we have identified an earlier commitment point in the starvation program. After this point, cells, returned to nutrient-rich medium, entered a form of synchronous PH development that was morphologically and genetically indistinguishable from starvation-induced PH growth. We show that lineage restriction during this time was, in part, dependent on the mRNA methyltransferase activity of Ime4, which played separable roles in meiotic induction and suppression of the PH program. Normal levels of meiotic mRNA methylation required the catalytic domain of Ime4, as well as two meiotic proteins, Mum2 and Slz1, which interacted and co-immunoprecipitated with Ime4. This MIS complex (Mum2, Ime4, and Slz1) functioned in both starvation pathways. Together, our results support the notion that the yeast starvation response is an extended process that progressively restricts cell fate and reveal a broad role of post-transcriptional RNA methylation in these decisions.
The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has many traits that make it useful for studies of quantitative inheritance. Genome-wide association studies and bulk segregant analyses often serve as first steps toward the identification of quantitative trait loci. These approaches benefit from having large numbers of ascospores pooled by mating type without contamination by vegetative cells. To this end, we inserted a gene encoding red fluorescent protein into the MATa locus. Red fluorescent protein expression caused MATa and a/? diploid vegetative cells and MATa ascospores to fluoresce; MAT? cells without the gene did not fluoresce. Heterozygous diploids segregated fluorescent and nonfluorescent ascospores 2:2 in tetrads and bulk populations. The two populations of spores were separable by fluorescence-activated cell sorting with little cross contamination or contamination with diploid vegetative cells. This approach, which we call Fluorescent Ascospore Technique for Efficient Recovery of Mating Type (FASTER MT), should be applicable to laboratory, industrial, and undomesticated, strains.
Mechanisms through which long intergenic noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) exert regulatory effects on eukaryotic biological processes remain largely elusive. Most studies of these phenomena rely on methods that measure average behaviors in cell populations, lacking resolution to observe the effects of ncRNA transcription on gene expression in a single cell. Here, we combine quantitative single-molecule RNA FISH experiments with yeast genetics and computational modeling to gain mechanistic insights into the regulation of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein-coding gene FLO11 by two intergenic ncRNAs, ICR1 and PWR1. Direct detection of FLO11 mRNA and these ncRNAs in thousands of individual cells revealed alternative expression states and provides evidence that ICR1 and PWR1 contribute to FLO11s variegated transcription, resulting in Flo11-dependent phenotypic heterogeneity in clonal cell populations by modulating recruitment of key transcription factors to the FLO11 promoter.
The positions of nucleosomes across the genome influence several cellular processes, including gene transcription. However, our understanding of the factors dictating where nucleosomes are located and how this affects gene regulation is still limited. Here, we perform an extensive in vivo study to investigate the influence of the neighboring chromatin structure on local nucleosome positioning and gene expression. Using truncated versions of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae URA3 gene, we show that nucleosome positions in the URA3 promoter are at least partly determined by the local DNA sequence, with so-called anti-nucleosomal elements like poly(dA:dT) tracts being key determinants of nucleosome positions. In addition, we show that changes in the nucleosome positions in the URA3 promoter strongly affect the promoter activity. Most interestingly, in addition to demonstrating the effect of the local DNA sequence, our study provides novel in vivo evidence that nucleosome positions are also affected by the position of neighboring nucleosomes. Nucleosome structure may therefore be an important selective force for conservation of gene order on a chromosome, because relocating a gene to another genomic position (where the positions of neighboring nucleosomes are different from the original locus) can have dramatic consequences for the genes nucleosome structure and thus its expression.
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