Recent studies associating dietary selenium with reduced cancer susceptibility have aroused interest in this substance. In the millimolar range, selenite is toxic and slightly mutagenic for yeast. We show that selenite-treated yeast cells tend to arrest as large budded cells and that this arrest is abolished in a rad9 mutant that is significantly sensitive to selenite. Interestingly, a rev3 mutant affected in the error-prone repair pathway is also sensitive to selenite, whereas mutations in the other DNA repair pathways do not strongly affect resistance to selenite. We propose that selenite treatment leads to DNA damage inducing the RAD9-dependent cell cycle arrest. Selenite-induced DNA damage could be converted to mutations by the Rev3p-dependent lesion bypass system, thus allowing the cell cycle to progress. We have also investigated the selenite detoxification mechanisms and identified three genes involved in this process. In the present study, we show that lack of the cadmium glutathione-conjugate vacuolar pump Ycf1p or overexpression of the sulphite resistance membrane protein Ssu1p enhance the capacity of yeast cells to resist selenite treatment. Finally, we show that overexpression of the glutathione reductase Glr1p increases resistance to selenite, suggesting that selenite toxicity in yeast is closely linked to its oxidative capacity.
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