In the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway, CTP synthetase catalyses the conversion of uridine 5'-triphosphate (UTP) to cytidine 5'-triphosphate (CTP). In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the URA7 gene encoding this enzyme was previously shown to be nonessential for cell viability. The present paper describes the selection of synthetic lethal mutants in the CTP biosynthetic pathway that led us to clone a second gene, named URA8, which also encodes a CTP synthetase. Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequences of the products of URA7 and URA8 shows 78% identity. Deletion of the URA8 gene is viable in a haploid strain but simultaneous presence of null alleles both URA7 and URA8 is lethal. Based on the codon bias values for the two genes and the intracellular concentrations of CTP in strains deleted for one of the two genes, relative to the wild-type level, URA7 appears to be the major gene for CTP biosynthesis. Nevertheless, URA8 alone also allows yeast growth, at least under standard laboratory conditions.
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