The relationship between visible intracellular aggregates that appear after overexpression of Sup35 and the yeast prion-like elements [PSI+] and [PIN+]

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Abstract

Overproduced fusions of Sup35 or its prion domain with green fluorescent protein (GFP) have previously been shown to form frequent dots in [PSI+] cells. Rare foci seen in [psi] cells were hypothesized to indicate the de novo induction of [PSI+] caused by the overproduced prion domain. Here, we describe novel ring-type aggregates that also appear in [psi] cultures upon Sup35 overproduction and show directly that dot and ring aggregates only appear in cells that have become [PSI+]. The formation of either type of aggregate requires [PIN+], an element needed for the induction of [PSI+]. Although aggregates are visible predominantly in stationary-phase cultures, [PSI+] induction starts in exponential phase, suggesting that much smaller aggregates can also propagate [PSI+]. Such small aggregates are probably present in [PSI+] cells and, upon Sup35–GFP overproduction, facilitate the frequent formation of dot aggregates, but only the occasional appearance of ring aggregates. In contrast, rings are very frequent when [PSI+] cultures, including those lacking [PIN+], are grown in the presence of GuHCl or excess Hsp104 while overexpressing Sup35–GFP. Thus, intermediates formed during [PSI+] curing seem to facilitate ring formation. Surprisingly, GuHCl and excess Hsp104, which are known to promote loss of [PSI+], did not prevent the de novo induction of [PSI+] by excess Sup35 in [psi][PIN+] strains.

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