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Background Dolichol is a family of long-chain polyprenols, which is utilized as a sugar carrier in protein glycosylation in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We have identified a key enzyme of the dolichol synthesis, cis-prenyltransferase, as Rer2p from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We have also isolated a multicopy suppressor of an rer2 mutant and named it SRT1. It encodes a protein similar to Rer2p but its function has not been established.

Results The cis-prenyltransferase activity of Srt1p has been proved biochemically in the lysate of yeast cells lacking Rer2p. The polyprenol product of Srt1p is longer in chain length than that of Rer2p and is not sufficiently converted to dolichol and dolichyl phosphate, unlike that of Rer2p. The subcellular localization of these two isozymes has been examined by immunofluorescence microscopy and by the use of GFP fusion proteins. Whereas GFP-Rer2p is localized to the continuous ER and some dots associated with the ER, GFP-Srt1p shows only punctate localization patterns. Immunofluorescence double staining with Erg6p, a marker of lipid particles in yeast, indicates that Srt1p is mainly localized to lipid particles (lipid bodies). RER2 is mainly expressed in the early logarithmic phase, while the expression of SRT1 is induced in the stationary phase.

Conclusions We have shown that yeast has two active cis-prenyltransferases with different properties. This result implies that the two isozymes have different physiological roles during the life cycle of the yeast.