A Yeast Prion, Mod5, Promotes Acquired Drug Resistance and Cell Survival Under Environmental Stress

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Science  20 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6079, pp. 355-359
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219491

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Prion conversion from a soluble protein to an aggregated state may be involved in the cellular adaptation of yeast to the environment. However, it remains unclear whether and how cells actively use prion conversion to acquire a fitness advantage in response to environmental stress. We identified Mod5, a yeast transfer RNA isopentenyltransferase lacking glutamine/asparagine-rich domains, as a yeast prion protein and found that its prion conversion in yeast regulated the sterol biosynthetic pathway for acquired cellular resistance against antifungal agents. Furthermore, selective pressure by antifungal drugs on yeast facilitated the de novo appearance of Mod5 prion states for cell survival. Thus, phenotypic changes caused by active prion conversion under environmental selection may contribute to cellular adaptation in living organisms.

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