Functional analysis of different regions of the positive-acting CYS3 regulatory protein of Neurospora crassa
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In the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa during conditions of sulfur limitation, CYS3, a major positive-acting regulatory protein, turns on the expression of an entire set of genes which encode permeases and enzymes involved in the acquisition of sulfur from environmental sources. CYS3 functions as a homodimeric protein and possesses a b-Zip domain that confers sequence-specific DNA binding. Expression of various hybrid GAL4-CYS3 fusion proteins in yeast was used to detect regions involved in gene activation. An amino-terminal serine/threonine-rich domain of CYS3 alone strongly activated expression of β-galactosidase, the yeast reporter. Moreover, mutant CYS3 proteins with amino-acid substitutions in this region that showed increased expression in Neurospora also displayed an enhanced activation potential in yeast. The cys-3 gene of the exotic N. crassa Mauriceville strain and of N. intermedia were cloned and demonstrated to be functional for gene activation and for sulfur-mediated regulation by complementation of a loss-of-function cys-3 mutation. The amino-terminal serine/threonine-rich region is highly conserved in these two CYS3 proteins, in agreement with the possibility that it serves as the activation domain. Surprisingly, an extended promoter region of the cys-3 gene in the Mauriceville strain and in N. intermedia was very well conserved with that of the standard N. crassa gene, including the presence of three CYS3-binding sites possibly involved in autogenous control. Results are presented which indicate that synthesis of the CYS3 regulatory protein is highly regulated and can be detected in the nucleus of cells subjected to sulfur de-repression, but is not found in the nucleus or the cytoplasm of S-repressed cells. The amino-acid substitutions of the CYS3 protein present in a temperature-sensitive cys-3 mutant and in a second-site revertant of a cys-3 null mutation are presented and are shown to affect their DNA-binding activities.
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