Cysteine is essential for transcriptional regulation of the sulfur assimilation genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Mol Gen Genet. 2000 Apr;263(3):535-42. doi: 10.1007/s004380051199.


Transcription of the genes for sulfur assimilation and methionine biosynthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is regulated by the size of the intracellular pool of an organic sulfur compound. The identity of this compound is not clear, but suggestions include S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) and cysteine. By studying the repression of selected sulfur assimilation (MET) genes, we found that the ability to form cysteine from homocysteine is crucial for methionine-mediated repression to take place. The transcription of MET14 and MET25 could not be repressed by methionine in strains in which either STR4 (which encodes cystathionine beta-synthase) or STR1 (cystathionine gamma-lyase) was disrupted, whereas the repression was independent of GSH1 (which encodes the enzyme responsible for the first step in glutathione biosynthesis from cysteine). In contrast, cysteine could repress the MET genes in all of these strains. Two genes that presumably encode cystathionine gamma-synthase and cystathionine beta-lyase were identified by genetic disruption (ORFs YJR130c and YGL184c), yielding yeast strains that cannot convert cysteine into homocysteine. Repression by cysteine was possible in either disruptant, suggesting a role in repression for cysteine alone. While some repression of MET genes could be accomplished by homocysteine in a strain that cannot form SAM from methionine, a low intracellular level of SAM seems to be necessary for full cysteine-mediated repression to take place.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Northern
  • Carbon-Oxygen Lyases / genetics
  • Cysteine / physiology*
  • Cysteine Synthase
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Multienzyme Complexes*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Plasmids
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Sulfur / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Sulfur
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Cysteine Synthase
  • MET17 protein, S cerevisiae
  • O-acetylhomoserine (thiol)-lyase
  • Carbon-Oxygen Lyases
  • Cysteine