The Sir2-Sum1 complex represses transcription using both promoter-specific and long-range mechanisms to regulate cell identity and sexual cycle in the yeast Kluyveromyces lactis

PLoS Genet. 2009 Nov;5(11):e1000710. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000710. Epub 2009 Nov 6.


Deacetylases of the Sir2 family regulate lifespan and response to stress. We have examined the evolutionary history of Sir2 and Hst1, which arose by gene duplication in budding yeast and which participate in distinct mechanisms of gene repression. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Sir2 interacts with the SIR complex to generate long-range silenced chromatin at the cryptic mating-type loci, HMLalpha and HMRa. Hst1 interacts with the SUM1 complex to repress sporulation genes through a promoter-specific mechanism. We examined the functions of the non-duplicated Sir2 and its partners, Sir4 and Sum1, in the yeast Kluyveromyces lactis, a species that diverged from Saccharomyces prior to the duplication of Sir2 and Hst1. KlSir2 interacts with both KlSir4 and KlSum1 and represses the same sets of target genes as ScSir2 and ScHst1, indicating that Sir2 and Hst1 subfunctionalized after duplication. However, the KlSir4-KlSir2 and KlSum1-KlSir2 complexes do not function as the analogous complexes do in S. cerevisiae. KlSir4 contributes to an extended repressive chromatin only at HMLalpha and not at HMRa. In contrast, the role of KlSum1 is broader. It employs both long-range and promoter-specific mechanisms to repress cryptic mating-type loci, cell-type-specific genes, and sporulation genes and represents an important regulator of cell identity and the sexual cycle. This study reveals that a single repressive complex can act through two distinct mechanisms to regulate gene expression and illustrates how mechanisms by which regulatory proteins act can change over evolutionary time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Kluyveromyces / cytology*
  • Kluyveromyces / genetics*
  • Kluyveromyces / physiology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Protein Binding
  • Sirtuins / genetics
  • Sirtuins / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Sir2 protein, Kluyveromyces lactis
  • Sirtuins