A DNA fragment conferring resistance to zinc and cadmium ions in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was isolated from a library of yeast genomic DNA. Its nucleotide sequence revealed the presence of a single open reading frame (ORF; 1326 bp) having the potential to encode a protein of 442 amino acid residues (molecular mass of 48.3 kDa). A frameshift mutation introduced within the ORF abolished resistance to heavy metal ions, indicating the ORF is required for resistance. Therefore, we termed it the ZRC1 (zinc resistance conferring) gene. The deduced amino acid sequence of the gene product predicts a rather hydrophobic protein with six possible membrane-spanning regions. While multiple copies of the ZRC1 gene enable yeast cells to grow in the presence of 40 mM Zn2+, a level at which wild-type cells cannot survive, the disruption of the chromosomal ZRC1 locus, though not a lethal event, makes cells more sensitive to zinc ions than are wild-type cells.
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