Structure of the multigene family of MAL loci in Saccharomyces

Mol Gen Genet. 1989 May;217(1):60-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00330943.


Multigene families are a ubiquitous feature of eukaryotes; however, their presence in Saccharomyces is more limited. The MAL multigene family is comprised of five unlinked loci, MAL1, MAL2, MAL3, MAL4 and MAL6, any one of which is sufficient for yeast to metabolize maltose. A cloned MAL6 locus was used as a probe to facilitate the cloning of the other four functional loci as well as two partially active alleles of MAL1. Each locus could be characterized as a cluster of three genes, MALR (regulatory), MALT (maltose transport or permease) and MALS (structural or maltase), encoded by a total of about 7 kb of DNA; however, homologous sequences at each locus extend beyond the coding regions. Our results indicate that there is extensive homology among the MAL loci, especially within their maltase genes. The greatest sequence diversity occurs in their regulatory gene regions. Southern cross analyses of the cloned MAL loci indicate a single duplication of the MAL6R-homologous sequences upstream of the MAL6R gene as well as an extensive duplication of more than 10 kb at the MAL3 locus. The large repeat at the MAL3 locus results in the presence of four copies of MAL3R-homologous sequences and two copies of MAL3T-homologous sequences at that locus. Two naturally occurring inactive alleles of MAL1 show a deletion or divergence of their MALR sequences. The significance of these repeats in the evolution of the MAL multigene family is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cosmids
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Maltose / metabolism
  • Multigene Family*
  • Mutation
  • Plasmids
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Maltose
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes