Ribosome biogenesis requires the concerted activities of three nuclear RNA polymerases, (Pols) I, II, and III, to produce 25S, 18S and 5.8S ribosomal RNA (rRNA), messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding ribosomal proteins, and the 5S rRNA, respectively. The rRNA is processed and modified before being assembled with ribosomal proteins to produce a ribosome. Ribosome biogenesis requires extensive energetic investment by the cell, so it is critical that this process is tightly regulated in accord with cellular growth potential. Previous work revealed that rRNA synthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is repressed prior to the cells shift from active growth (log phase) to limited/static growth (stationary phase). The mechanism(s) by which cells anticipate imminent stationary phase are unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that growing cells produce one or more compounds that accumulate in the growth medium, and that this compound induces repression of rRNA synthesis. When cells encounter this compound, rRNA synthesis is rapidly repressed. We further show that subunits of Pols I and II are degraded during the transition from log to stationary phase growth, but this degradation does not account for the observed repression of rRNA synthesis. Interestingly, repression of rRNA synthesis by spent media requires the nuclear exosome, implying that spent media stimulates rapid rRNA degradation. Together, these data suggest that yeast use quorum sensing to regulate rRNA synthesis in anticipation of high cell density in stationary phase.
Keywords: Growth phase; Quorum sensing; RNA polymerase; Ribosome; Transcription.
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