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Epigenetic Inheritance of Transcriptional Silencing and Switching Competence in Fission Yeast

Authors
  • G. Thon
  • T. Friis
Publication Date
Mar 01, 1997
Source
PMC
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Biology
License
Unknown

Abstract

Epigenetic events allow the inheritance of phenotypic changes that are not caused by an alteration in DNA sequence. Here we characterize an epigenetic phenomenon occuring in the mating-type region of fission yeast. Cells of fission yeast switch between the P and M mating-type by interconverting their expressed mating-type cassette between two allelic forms, mat1-P and mat1-M. The switch results from gene conversions of mat1 by two silent cassettes, mat2-P and mat3-M, which are linked to each other and to mat1. GREWAL and KLAR observed that the ability to both switch mat1 and repress transcription near mat2-P and mat3-M was maintained epigenetically in a strain with an 8-kb deletion between mat2 and mat3. Using a strain very similar to theirs, we determined that interconversions between the switching-and silencing-proficient state and the switching and silencing-deficient state occurred less frequently than once per 1000 cell divisions. Although transcriptional silencing was alleviated by the 8-kb deletion, it was not abolished. We performed a mutant search and obtained a class of trans-acting mutations that displayed a strong cumulative effect with the 8-kb deletion. These mutations allow to assess the extent to which silencing is affected by the deletion and provide new insights on the redundancy of the silencing mechanism.

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