Natural sequence variants of yeast environmental sensors confer cell-to-cell expression variability.

Abstract : : Living systems may have evolved probabilistic bet hedging strategies that generate cell-to-cell phenotypic diversity in anticipation of environmental catastrophes, as opposed to adaptation via a deterministic response to environmental changes. Evolution of bet hedging assumes that genotypes segregating in natural populations modulate the level of intraclonal diversity, which so far has largely remained hypothetical. Using a fluorescent Pmet17-GFP reporter, we mapped four genetic loci conferring to a wild yeast strain an elevated cell-to-cell variability in the expression of MET17, a gene regulated by the methionine pathway. A frameshift mutation in the Erc1p transmembrane transporter, probably resulting from a release of laboratory strains from negative selection, reduced Pmet17-GFP expression variability. At a second locus, cis-regulatory polymorphisms increased mean expression of the Mup1p methionine permease, causing increased expression variability in trans. These results demonstrate that an expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) can simultaneously have a deterministic effect in cis and a probabilistic effect in trans. Our observations indicate that the evolution of transmembrane transporter genes can tune intraclonal variation and may therefore be implicated in both reactive and anticipatory strategies of adaptation.
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Steffen Fehrmann, Hélène Bottin-Duplus, Andri Leonidou, Esther Mollereau, Audrey Barthelaix, et al.. Natural sequence variants of yeast environmental sensors confer cell-to-cell expression variability.. Molecular Systems Biology, EMBO Press, 2013, 9, pp.695. ⟨10.1038/msb.2013.53⟩. ⟨ensl-00872339⟩

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