Transcriptional regulation of the squalene synthase gene (ERG9) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Apr 14;1445(1):110-22. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4781(99)00035-4.


The ergosterol biosynthetic pathway is a specific branch of the mevalonate pathway. Since the cells requirement for sterols is greater than for isoprenoids, sterol biosynthesis must be regulated independently of isoprenoid biosynthesis. In this study we explored the transcriptional regulation of squalene synthase (ERG9) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the first enzyme dedicated to the synthesis of sterols. A mutant search was performed to identify genes that were involved in the regulation of the expression of an ERG9-lacZ promoter fusion. Mutants with phenotypes consistent with known sterol biosynthetic mutations (ERG3, ERG7, ERG24) increased expression of ERG9. In addition, treatment of wild-type cells with the sterol inhibitors zaragozic acid and ketoconazole, which target squalene synthase and the C-14 sterol demethylase respectively, also caused an increase in ERG9 expression. The data also demonstrate that heme mutants increased ERG9 expression while anaerobic conditions decreased expression. Additionally, the heme activator protein transcription factors HAP1 and HAP2/3/4, the yeast activator protein transcription factor yAP-1, and the phospholipid transcription factor complex INO2/4 regulate ERG9 expression. ERG9 expression is decreased in hap1, hap2/3/4, and yap-1 mutants while ino2/4 mutants showed an increase in ERG9 expression. This study demonstrates that ERG9 transcription is regulated by several diverse factors, consistent with the idea that as the first step dedicated to the synthesis of sterols, squalene synthase gene expression and ultimately sterol biosynthesis is highly regulated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • CCAAT-Binding Factor*
  • Ergosterol / metabolism
  • Farnesyl-Diphosphate Farnesyltransferase / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • CCAAT-Binding Factor
  • Fungal Proteins
  • HAP3 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Farnesyl-Diphosphate Farnesyltransferase
  • Ergosterol