The [KIL-d] element specifically regulates viral gene expression in yeast

Zsolt Tallóczy, Rebecca Mazar, Denise E. Georgopoulos, Fausto Ramos, Michael J Leibowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The cytoplasmically inherited [KIL-d] element epigenetically regulates killer virus gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. [KIL-d] results in variegated defects in expression of the M double-stranded RNA viral segment in haploid cells that are 'healed' in diploids. We report that the [KIL-d] element is spontaneously lost with a frequency of 10-4-10-5 and reappears with variegated phenotypic expression with a frequency of ≥10-3. This high rate of loss and higher rate of reappearance is unlike any known nucleic acid replicon but resembles the behavior of yeast prions. However, [KIL-d] is distinct from the known yeast prions in its relative guanidinium hydrochloride incurability and independence of Hsp104 protein for its maintenance. Despite its transmissibility by successive cytoplasmic transfers, multiple cytoplasmic nucleic acids have been proven not to carry the [KIL-d] trait. [KIL-d] epigenetically regulates the expression of the M double-stranded RNA satellite virus genome, but fails to alter the expression of M cDNA. This specificity remained even after a cycle of mating and meiosis. Due to its unique genetic properties and vital RNA specificity, [KIL-d] represents a new type of genetic element that interacts with a viral RNA genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-609
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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