Transcriptional regulation in the yeast life cycle

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Science  04 Sep 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4819, pp. 1162-1170
DOI: 10.1126/science.3306917


The transition from haploid to diploid in homothallic yeast involves a defined sequence of events which are regulated at the level of transcription. Transcription factors encoded by SWI genes activate the HO endonuclease gene at a precise stage in the cell cycle of mother cells. The HO endonuclease initiates a transposition event which activates genes of the opposite mating type by causing them to move away from a silencer element. The activated mating type genes then regulate genes involved in cell signaling such as the mating type-specific pheromones and their receptors. Since HO is only activated in one of the sister cells after division (the mother), adjacent cells of opposite mating type are generated which respond to each others' secreted pheromones by inducing genes involved in conjugation. This leads to the formation of a diploid in which many of the genes involved in mating and mating-type switching become repressed due to the heterozygosity of the mating-type locus. This article summarizes what is known about these transcriptional controls and discusses possible parallels in higher eukaryotes.