Mammalian and fungal prion proteins form self-perpetuating β-sheet-rich fibrillar aggregates called amyloid. Prion inheritance is based on propagation of the regularly oriented amyloid structures of the prion proteins. All yeast prion proteins identified thus far contain aggregation-prone glutamine/asparagine (Gln/Asn)-rich domains, although the mammalian prion protein and fungal prion protein HET-s do not contain such sequences. In order to fill this gap, we searched for novel yeast prion proteins lacking Gln/Asn-rich domains via a genome-wide screen based on cross-seeding between two heterologous proteins and identified Mod5, a yeast tRNA isopentenyltransferase, as a novel non-Gln/Asn-rich yeast prion protein. Mod5 formed self-propagating amyloid fibers in vitro and the introduction of Mod5 amyloids into non-prion yeast induced dominantly and cytoplasmically heritable prion state [MOD+], which harbors aggregates of endogenous Mod5. [MOD+] yeast showed an increased level of membrane lipid ergosterol and acquired resistance to antifungal agents. Importantly, enhanced de novo formation of [MOD+] was observed when non-prion yeast was grown under selective pressures from antifungal drugs. Our findings expand the family of yeast prions to non-Gln/Asn-rich proteins and reveal the acquisition of a fitness advantage for cell survival through active prion conversion.
G Suzuki, N Shimazu, M Tanaka. A yeast prion, Mod5, promotes acquired drug resistance and cell survival under environmental stress. Science 2012; 336: 355- 9.
PMID: 22517861 DOI: 10.1126/science.1219491