The petite mutation in yeasts: 50 years on

Int Rev Cytol. 2000;194:197-238. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(08)62397-9.


Fifty years ago it was reported that baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, can form "petite colonie" mutants when treated with the DNA-targeting drug acriflavin. To mark the jubilee of studies on cytoplasmic inheritance, a review of the early work will be presented together with some observations on current developments. The primary emphasis is to address the questions of how loss of mtDNA leads to lethality (rho 0-lethality) in petite-negative yeasts and how S. cerevisiae tolerates elimination of mtDNA. Recent investigation have revealed that rho 0-lethality can be suppressed by specific mutations in the alpha, beta, and gamma subunits of the mitochondrial F1-ATPase of the petite-negative yeast Kluyveromyces lactis and by the nuclear ptp alleles in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. In contrast, inactivation of genes coding for F1-ATPase alpha and beta subunits and disruption of AAC2, PGS1/PEL1, and YME1 genes in S. cerevisiae convert this petite-positive yeast into a petite-negative form. Studies on nuclear genes affecting dependence on mtDNA have provided important insight into the functions provided by the mitochondrial genome and the maintenance of structural and functional integrity of the mitochondrial inner membrane.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Genes, Fungal
  • History, 20th Century
  • Kluyveromyces / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Yeasts / genetics


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases