A functional module of yeast mediator that governs the dynamic range of heat-shock gene expression.
We report the results of a genetic screen designed to identify transcriptional coregulators of yeast heat-shock factor (HSF). This sequence-specific activator is required to stimulate both basal and induced transcription; however, the identity of factors that collaborate with HSF in governing noninduced heat-shock gene expression is unknown. In an effort to identify these factors, we isolated spontaneous extragenic suppressors of hsp82-deltaHSE1, an allele of HSP82 that bears a 32-bp deletion of its high-affinity HSF-binding site, yet retains its two low-affinity HSF sites. Nearly 200 suppressors of the null phenotype of hsp82-deltaHSE1 were isolated and characterized, and they sorted into six expression without heat-shock element (EWE) complementation groups. Strikingly, all six groups contain alleles of genes that encode subunits of Mediator. Three of the six subunits, Med7, Med10/Nut2, and Med21/Srb7, map to Mediator's middle domain; two subunits, Med14/Rgr1 and Med16/Sin4, to its tail domain; and one subunit, Med19/Rox3, to its head domain. Mutations in genes encoding these factors enhance not only the basal transcription of hsp82-deltaHSE1, but also that of wild-type heat-shock genes. In contrast to their effect on basal transcription, the more severe ewe mutations strongly reduce activated transcription, drastically diminishing the dynamic range of heat-shock gene expression. Notably, targeted deletion of other Mediator subunits, including the negative regulators Cdk8/Srb10, Med5/Nut1, and Med15/Gal11 fail to derepress hsp82-deltaHSE1. Taken together, our data suggest that the Ewe subunits constitute a distinct functional module within Mediator that modulates both basal and induced heat-shock gene transcription.