Interaction of Yna1 and Yna2 Is Required for Nuclear Accumulation and Transcriptional Activation of the Nitrate Assimilation Pathway in the Yeast Hansenula polymorpha.

PloS one

PubMedID: 26335797

Silvestrini L, Rossi B, Gallmetzer A, Mathieu M, Scazzocchio C, Berardi E, Strauss J. Interaction of Yna1 and Yna2 Is Required for Nuclear Accumulation and Transcriptional Activation of the Nitrate Assimilation Pathway in the Yeast Hansenula polymorpha. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(9):e0135416.
A few yeasts, including Hansenula polymorpha are able to assimilate nitrate and use it as nitrogen source. The genes necessary for nitrate assimilation are organised in this organism as a cluster comprising those encoding nitrate reductase (YNR1), nitrite reductase (YNI1), a high affinity transporter (YNT1), as well as the two pathway specific Zn(II)2Cys2 transcriptional activators (YNA1, YNA2). Yna1p and Yna2p mediate induction of the system and here we show that their functions are interdependent. Yna1p activates YNA2 as well as its own (YNA1) transcription thus forming a nitrate-dependent autoactivation loop. Using a split-YFP approach we demonstrate here that Yna1p and Yna2p form a heterodimer independently of the inducer and despite both Yna1p and Yna2p can occupy the target promoter as mono- or homodimer individually, these proteins are transcriptionally incompetent. Subsequently, the transcription factors target genes containing a conserved DNA motif (termed nitrate-UAS) determined in this work by in vitro and in vivo protein-DNA interaction studies. These events lead to a rearrangement of the chromatin landscape on the target promoters and are associated with the onset of transcription of these target genes. In contrast to other fungi and plants, in which nuclear accumulation of the pathway-specific transcription factors only occur in the presence of nitrate, Yna1p and Yna2p are constitutively nuclear in H. polymorpha. Yna2p is needed for this nuclear accumulation and Yna1p is incapable of strictly positioning in the nucleus without Yna2p. In vivo DNA footprinting and ChIP analyses revealed that the permanently nuclear Yna1p/Yna2p heterodimer only binds to the nitrate-UAS when the inducer is present. The nitrate-dependent up-regulation of one partner protein in the heterodimeric complex is functionally similar to the nitrate-dependent activation of nuclear accumulation in other systems.