The seminar will describe prions, an unsual class of 'protein-only' genetic element first described in relation to various brain degenerative diseases of animals, but subsequently discovered in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Prions provide the ability to modulate a protein's function in a reversible manner without the immediate need to fix changes in the DNA sequence that encodes that protein. The discovery of prions in yeast has raised the intriguing possibility that in fungi they can act as a novel 'epigenetic' elements to modulate cell form an function rather then disease causing as is the case with mammalian prions. Various aspects of the biology of yeast prions will be discussed including how they are generated de novo and propagated in cells.
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Professor Mick Tuite, Kent Fungal Group, School of Biosciences, University of Kent