Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Molecular Genetics and Microbiology


Microbiology and Physiological Systems

First Thesis Advisor

Richard E. Baker


Centromere, DNA-Binding Proteins, Saccharomyces cerevisiae


CP1 is a sequence specific DNA-binding protein of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae which recognizes the highly conserved centromere DNA element I (CDEI) of yeast centromeres. The gene encoding CP1, which was designated CEP1 for centromere protein 1, was cloned and sequenced. CEP1 encodes a highly acidic protein of molecular weight 39,400. CEP1 was mapped to a position 4.6 centiMorgans centromere distal to SUP4 on the right arm of chromosome X. Phenotypic analysis of cep1 mutants demonstrated that yeast strains lacking CP1 are viable but have a 35% increase in cell doubling time, a ninefold increase in the rate of mitotic chromosome loss, and are methionine auxotrophs. Detailed analysis of the mitotic chromosome-loss phenotype showed that the loss is primarily due to chromosome nondisjunction (2:0 segregation). During meiosis cep1 null mutants exhibited aberrant segregation of centromere containing plasmids, chromosome fragments, and chromosomes. The predominant missegregation event observed was precocious sister segregation. The mutants also displayed a nonrandom 20% decrease in spore viability. Missegregation of chromosomes accounted for some but not all of this decreased spore viability, the remainder of which is presumed to be related to the pleiotropic consequences of the cep1 mutation. Together with the observed mitotic missegregation phenotype the results are interpreted as suggesting that CP1 promotes sister chromatid-kinetochore adhesion. The following conclusions are based on my mutational analysis of CP1: (1) CP1 is normally present in functional excess, (2) the C-terminal 143 amino acids are sufficient for full CP1 function in chromosome segregation and methionine metabolism, and (3) while DNA binding is apparently necessary for function, DNA binding per se is not sufficient. All of the mutations which caused an observable phenotype affected both centromere function and methionine metabolism. In addition, a direct correlation was observed in the degree to which both phenotypes were affected by different mutations. None of the mutant proteins displayed trans-dominant effects in a wild type background; however, two nonfunctional DNA binding-competent mutants exerted a dominant negative effect on the ability of PHO4 to suppress cep1 methionine auxotrophy. The data are consistent with a model in which CP1 performs a similar function at centromeres and promoters.


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