Two groups of anaerobic genes (genes induced in anaerobic cells and repressed in aerobic cells) are negatively regulated by heme, a metabolite present only in aerobic cells. Members of both groups, the hypoxic genes and the DAN/TIR/ERG genes, are jointly repressed under aerobic conditions by two factors. One is Rox1, an HMG protein, and the second, originally designated Rox7, is shown here to be Mot3, a global C2H2 zinc finger regulator. Repression of anaerobic genes results from co-induction of Mot3 and Rox1 in aerobic cells. Repressor synthesis is triggered by heme, which de-represses a mechanism controlling expression of both MOT3 and ROX1 in anaerobic cells; it includes Hap1, Tup1, Ssn6 and a fourth unidentified factor. The constitutive expression of various anaerobic genes in aerobic rox1Delta or mot3Delta cells directly implies that neither factor can repress by itself at endogenous levels and that stringent aerobic repression results from the concerted action of both. Mot3 and Rox1 are not essential components of a single complex, since each can repress independently in the absence of the other, when artificially induced at high levels. Moreover, the two repression mechanisms appear to be distinct: as shown here repression of ANB1 by Rox1 alone requires Tup1-Ssn6, whereas repression by Mot3 does not. Though artificially high levels of either factor can repress well, the absolute efficiency observed in normal cells when both are present-at much lower levels-demonstrates a novel inhibitory synergy. Evidently, expression levels for the two mutually dependent repressors are calibrated to permit a range of variation in basal aerobic expression at different promoters with differing operator site combinations.
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