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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Regulation of Stress Response Genes in Brewer's Yeast

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 09/01/2005
End Date 06/30/2006
Funding Source N/A
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Last Updated 07/05/2008 01:25AM
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Faculty
  Jocelyn Krebs

Student Researchers
  Rachel Brewer

Abstract

All cells have mechanisms by which they respond to stressors, such as toxic metals, in their environment. This stress response includes transcriptional activation and regulation of specific stress response genes. The DNA has certain sequence elements and proteins that regulate this expression; however, DNA, which is normally compacted into nucleosomes, must modify its compaction to allow access to these genes. The CUP1 gene encodes a copper metallothionein (Cup1p), a protein involved in copper level regulation. When cells are exposed to excess copper, CUP1 transcription is quickly activated. Cup1p binds to the copper ions in the cell, thus limiting the exposure of the cell to the free copper ions. However, if CUP1 transcription is not then turned off, Cup1p will bind all copper ions in the cell. Because trace amounts of copper are necessary for cellular activities, this can lead to cell death. Therefore, cells have developed a mechanism to rapidly shutdown transcription of the CUP1 gene. We are investigating RUF5 as a possible factor involved in down-regulating CUP1 transcription. RUF5 is a non-coding RNA transcribed at the same DNA location as Cup1p, though on the opposite strand. Therefore, RUF5 transcription is likely to prevent CUP1 transcription. These studies address how cells access specific stress response genes and which key components are involved in the process.

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