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Transcripts at the mating type locus of Cochliobolus heterostrophus


The single mating type locus (MAT ) of the heterothallic ascomycete Cochliobolus heterostrophus is composed of a pair of unlike sequences called idiomorphs, each of which encodes one MAT-specific gene (MAT-1 and MAT-2). MAT transcripts were observed in blots of poly(A)+ RNA isolated from cultures grown in minimal medium, but were not detectable after growth of the fungus in complete medium, suggesting that transcription of MAT is tightly regulated. The idiomorphs (MAT-1 = 1297-bp, MAT-2 = 1171-bp) encode transcripts of 2.2 kb (MAT-1) and 2.1 kb (MAT-2), which start 5′ and end 3′ of the idiomorph within sequences common to both mating types. Analyses of MAT-1 and MAT-2 cDNAs revealed obligatory splicing of one intron (55-bp in MAT-1, 52-bp in MAT-2) within each MAT-specific ORF and optional splicing of two introns (63 and 79-bp) in the long (approximately 0.55 kb) 5′ untranslated leader sequences; the 3′ untranslated region is 0.46 kb long. Transcription start sites were found 5′ of, and within, the 79-bp intron. Optional splicing of the upstream introns and at least two transcription start sites result in three types of transcript: Type I with both 5′ introns spliced, Type II with only the 63-bp intron spliced, and Type III with neither 5′ intron spliced. The three transcript types are distinguished by various combinations of four short ORFs encoded by the corresponding genomic DNA, in the leader sequences of the MAT mRNAs. The transcript structure suggests several mechanisms by which expression of the MAT genes might be regulated at the level of translation during sexual development.

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Received: 1 March 1997 / Accepted: 21 June 1997

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Leubner-Metzger, G., Horwitz, B., Yoder, O. et al. Transcripts at the mating type locus of Cochliobolus heterostrophus . Mol Gen Genet 256, 661–673 (1997).

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  • Key words Ascomycete
  • Intron
  • uORF
  • UTR
  • mRNA leader