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    Changes in RNA are often poor predictors of protein accumulation. One factor disrupting this relationship are changes in transcription start sites (TSSs). Therefore, we explored how alterations in TSS affected expression of genes regulated by the Zap1 transcriptional activator of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Zap1 controls their response to zinc deficiency. Among over 80 known Zap1-regulated genes, several produced long leader transcripts (LLTs) in one zinc status condition and short leader transcripts (SLTs) in the other. Fusing LLT and SLT transcript leaders to green fluorescent protein indicated that for five genes, the start site shift likely has little effect on protein synthesis. For four genes, however, the different transcript leaders greatly affected translation. We focused on the HNT1 gene. Zap1 caused a shift from SLT HNT1 RNA in zinc-replete cells to LLT HNT1 RNA in deficient cells. This shift correlated with decreased protein production despite increased RNA. The LLT RNA contains multiple upstream open reading frames that can inhibit translation. Expression of the LLT HNT1 RNA was dependent on Zap1. However, expression of the long transcript was not required to decrease SLT HNT1 mRNA. Our results suggest that the Zap1-activated LLT RNA is a "fail-safe" mechanism to ensure decreased Hnt1 protein in zinc deficiency. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


    Supinda Tatip, Janet Taggart, Yirong Wang, Colin W MacDiarmid, David J Eide. Changes in transcription start sites of Zap1-regulated genes during zinc deficiency: Implications for HNT1 gene regulation. Molecular microbiology. 2020 Jan;113(1):285-296

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    PMID: 31692084

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