Genetically Engineered Transvestites Reveal Novel Mating Genes in Budding Yeast
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CitationHuberman, Lori B., and A. W. Murray. 2013. "Genetically engineered transvestites reveal novel mating genes in budding yeast." Genetics 195 (4):1277-90.
AbstractHaploid budding yeast has two mating types, defined by the alleles of the MAT locus, MATa and MATα. Two haploid cells of opposite mating types mate by signaling to each other using reciprocal pheromones and receptors, polarizing and growing towards each other, and eventually fusing to form a single diploid cell. The pheromones and receptors are necessary and sufficient to define a mating type, but other mating type-specific proteins make mating more efficient. We examined the role of these proteins by genetically engineering "transvestite" cells that swap the pheromone, pheromone receptor, and pheromone processing factors of one mating type for another. These cells mate with each other, but their mating is inefficient. By characterizing their mating defects and examining their transcriptomes, we found Afb1 (a-factor barrier), a novel MATα-specific protein that interferes with a-factor, the pheromone secreted by MATa cells. Strong pheromone secretion is essential for efficient mating, and the weak mating of transvestites can be improved by boosting their pheromone production. Synthetic biology can characterize the factors that control efficiency in biological processes. In yeast, selection for increased mating efficiency is likely to have continually boosted pheromone levels and the ability to discriminate between partners who make more and less pheromone. This discrimination comes at a cost: weak mating in situations where all potential partners make less pheromone.
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