Metal-regulated transcription in eukaryotes.
This review has summarized many of the major aspects of metal-regulated gene transcription in eukaryotic organisms as they are currently understood at the mechanistic level. Clearly, metals represent a class of important transcriptional effector molecules which regulate gene expression in different ways and both by activation or repression of gene transcription. To date, studies of metal-regulated transcription in fungi have resulted in the most detailed description of the structure, function and mechanisms of action of eukaryotic metal-responsive transcription factors. Recently, significant progress has been made in higher eukaryotic systems through the biochemical detection and purification of MRE binding proteins which may represent MRTFs. Additionally, perhaps fungi will be exploited for their genetics and ease of manipulation to clone and functionally analyze cDNAs for MRTFs from higher eukaryotes. The isolation of cDNAs for higher eukaryotic MRTFs will provide important tools for answering a number of interesting questions in metal-regulated gene transcription. How do higher eukaryotes activate MT gene transcription in response to a broad range of environmental metals? What are the tissue distributions of MRTFs and how does their activity correlate with the exposure of different tissues to varying concentrations of metals? What are the identities of other genes regulated by MRTFs and why are such genes metal-responsive? A comprehensive understanding of the detailed mechanisms for metal-regulated transcription will ultimately require an understanding of how eukaryotic cells sense, transport, distribute and remove metals from their environment. These questions provide an interesting and exciting area of investigation for geneticists, physiologists, molecular biologists, biophysicists and biochemists now and in the future.
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