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Open Access Research article

Loss of nonsense mediated decay suppresses mutations in Saccharomyces cerevisiae TRA1

Stephanie Kvas, Gregory B Gloor and Christopher J Brandl*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Western Ontario, London N6A5C1, Canada

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BMC Genetics 2012, 13:19  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-13-19

Published: 22 March 2012

Abstract

Background

Tra1 is an essential protein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It was first identified in the SAGA and NuA4 complexes, both with functions in multiple aspects of gene regulation and DNA repair, and recently found in the ASTRA complex. Tra1 belongs to the PIKK family of proteins with a C-terminal PI3K domain followed by a FATC domain. Previously we found that mutation of leucine to alanine at position 3733 in the FATC domain of Tra1 (tra1-L3733A) results in transcriptional changes and slow growth under conditions of stress. To further define the regulatory interactions of Tra1 we isolated extragenic suppressors of the tra1-L3733A allele.

Results

We screened for suppressors of the ethanol sensitivity caused by tra1-L3733A. Eleven extragenic recessive mutations, belonging to three complementation groups, were identified that partially suppressed a subset of the phenotypes caused by tra1-L3733A. Using whole genome sequencing we identified one of the mutations as an opal mutation at tryptophan 165 of UPF1/NAM7. Partial suppression of the transcriptional defect resulting from tra1-L3733A was observed at GAL10, but not at PHO5. Suppression was due to loss of nonsense mediated decay (NMD) since deletion of any one of the three NMD surveillance components (upf1/nam7, upf2/nmd2, or upf3) mediated the effect. Deletion of upf1 suppressed a second FATC domain mutation, tra1-F3744A, as well as a mutation to the PIK3 domain. In contrast, deletions of SAGA or NuA4 components were not suppressed.

Conclusions

We have demonstrated a genetic interaction between TRA1 and genes of the NMD pathway. The suppression is specific for mutations in TRA1. Since NMD and Tra1 generally act reciprocally to control gene expression, and the FATC domain mutations do not directly affect NMD, we suggest that suppression occurs as the result of overlap and/or crosstalk in these two broad regulatory networks.

Keywords:
Tra1; Yeast; Nonsense mediated decay; Upf1; Gene expression; Second-site suppression