Partial characterization of the cloned dihydrofolate reductase gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Nagel, Michael G.
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The cloned dihydrofolate reductase gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (DFR 1) is expressed in Escherichia coli. Bacterial strain JF1754 transformed with plasmids containing DFR 1 is at least 5X more resistant to inhibition by the folate antagonist trimethoprim. Expression of yeast DFR 1 in E. coli suggests it is likely that the gene lacks intervening sequences. The 1.8 kbp DNA fragment encoding yeast dhfr activity probably has its own promotor, as the gene is expressed in both orientations in E. coli. Expression of the yeast dhfr gene cloned into M13 viral vectors allowed positive selection of DFR 1 - M13 bacterial transfectants in medium supplemented with trimethoprim. A series of nested deletions generated by nuclease Bal 31 digestion and by restriction endonuclease cleavage of plasmids containing DFR 1 physically mapped the gene to a 930 bp region between the Pst 1 and Sal 1 cut sites. This is consistent with the 21,000 molecular weight attributed to yeast dhfr in previous reports. From preliminary DNA sequence analysis of the dhfr DNA fragment the 3' terminus of DFR 1 was assigned to a position 27 nucleotides from the Eco Rl cut site on the Bam Hi - Eco Rl DNA segment. Several putative yeast transcription termination consensus sequences were identified 3' to the opal stop codon. DFR 1 is expressed in yeast and it confers resistance to the antifolate methotrexate when the gene is present in 2 - 10 copies per cell. Plasmid-dependent resistance to methotrexate is also observed in a rad 6 background although the effect is somewhat less than that conferred to wild-type or rad 18 cells. Integration of DFR 1 into the yeast genome showed an intermediate sensitivity to folate antagonists. This may suggest a gene dosage effect. No change in petite induction in these yeast strains was observed in transformed cells containing yeast dhfr plasmids. The sensitivity of rad 6 , rad 18 and wild-type cell populations to trimethoprim were unaffected by the presence of DFR 1 in transformants. Moreover, trimethoprim did not induce petites in any strain tested, which normally results if dhfr is inhibited by other antifolates such as methotrexate. This may suggest that the dhfr enzyme is not the only possible target of trimethoprim in yeast. rad 6 mutants showed a very low level of spontaneous petite formation. Methotrexate failed to induce respiratory deficient mutants in this strain which suggested that rad 6 might be an obligate grande. However, ethidium bromide induced petites to a level approximately 50% of that exhibited by wild-type and rad 18 strains.