IRP researchers discover new gene involved in a toxic competition among yeast
Newly discovered gene helps some yeast endure toxins and can help scientists understand toxin resistance
National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a gene that makes yeast resistant to a lethal toxin, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. To study the evolution of toxin resistance, researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of NIH, used yeast — the kind commonly used for home baking — as a model organism. While researchers have long known about yeast’s remarkable ability to evade the effects of lethal toxins, the reason was a mystery until now.
“The intricacies of genomics that mediate these within-species battles are beautifully revealed by a study like this,” said Charles Rotimi, Ph.D., scientific director of the Intramural Research Program at NHGRI. “While this is a yeast story, the mechanisms will surely influence studies on toxins and their effects on humans.”
Throughout human history, people have combatted various toxins made by other organisms, like spiders, plants, snakes and even the cholera or anthrax bacteria. Understanding toxin resistance in yeast could lead to new avenues for protection against toxins in humans.
“We’re interested in understanding how genomic variation leads to differences between individuals, so in this study, we’re looking at the most basic biological mechanisms underlying resistance to toxins in simple organisms, such as yeast,” said Meru Sadhu, Ph.D., an investigator in the Genetic Disease Research Branch at NHGRI and senior author of the study. “An important way that organisms vary is in how much they’re affected by toxins.”
This page was last updated on Tuesday, February 21, 2023