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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Regulated expression of the GAL4 activator gene in yeast provides a sensitive genetic switch for glucose repression.

Glucose (catabolite) repression is mediated by multiple mechanisms that combine to regulate transcription of the GAL genes over at least a thousandfold range. We have determined that this is due predominantly to modest glucose repression (4- to 7-fold) of expression of GAL4, the gene encoding the transcriptional activator of the GAL genes. GAL4 regulation is affected by mutations in several genes previously implicated in the glucose repression pathway; it is not dependent on GAL4 or GAL80 protein function. GAL4 promoter sequences that mediate glucose repression were found to lie downstream of positively acting elements that may be "TATA boxes." Two nearly identical sequences (10/12 base pairs) in this region that may be binding sites for the MIG1 protein were identified as functional glucose-control elements. A 4-base-pair insertion in one of these sites causes constitutive GAL4 synthesis and leads to substantial relief (50-fold) of glucose repression of GAL1 expression. Furthermore, promoter deletions that modestly reduce GAL4 expression, and therefore presumably the amount of GAL4 protein synthesized, cause much greater reductions in GAL1 expression. These results suggest that GAL4 works synergistically to activate GAL1 expression. Thus, glucose repression of GAL1 expression is due largely to a relatively small reduction of GAL4 protein levels caused by reduced GAL4 transcription. This illustrates how modest regulation of a weakly expressed regulatory gene can act as a sensitive genetic switch to produce greatly amplified responses to environmental changes.[1]


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