Identification of the Transcription Factor Znc1p, Which Regulates the Yeast-To-Hypha Transition in the Dimorphic Yeast Yarrowia Lipolytica

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e66790. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066790. Print 2013.


The dimorphic yeast Yarrowia lipolytica is used as a model to study fungal differentiation because it grows as yeast-like cells or forms hyphal cells in response to changes in environmental conditions. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of a gene, ZNC1, involved in the dimorphic transition in Y. lipolytica. The ZNC1 gene encodes a 782 amino acid protein that contains a Zn(II)2C6 fungal-type zinc finger DNA-binding domain and a leucine zipper domain. ZNC1 transcription is elevated during yeast growth and decreases during the formation of mycelium. Cells in which ZNC1 has been deleted show increased hyphal cell formation. Znc1p-GFP localizes to the nucleus, but mutations within the leucine zipper domain of Znc1p, and to a lesser extent within the Zn(II)2C6 domain, result in a mislocalization of Znc1p to the cytoplasm. Microarrays comparing gene expression between znc1::URA3 and wild-type cells during both exponential growth and the induction of the yeast-to-hypha transition revealed 1,214 genes whose expression was changed by 2-fold or more under at least one of the conditions analyzed. Our results suggest that Znc1p acts as a transcription factor repressing hyphal cell formation and functions as part of a complex network regulating mycelial growth in Y. lipolytica.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Hyphae / genetics
  • Hyphae / growth & development*
  • Hyphae / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Yarrowia / genetics
  • Yarrowia / growth & development*
  • Yarrowia / metabolism*
  • Yeasts / genetics
  • Yeasts / growth & development*
  • Yeasts / metabolism*


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Transcription Factors

Grant support

This work was supported by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) (; Consejo Estatal de Ciencia y Tecnología del Estado de Guanajuato (CONCyTEG (; Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP) (; University of Guanajuato ( Azul Martinez-Vazquez received a fellowship from CONACyT, México. Richard Rachubinski is an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript