The Saccharomyces cerevisiae vacuolar ATP-binding cassette transporter Ycf1p is involved in heavy metal detoxification by mediating the ATP-dependent transport of glutathione-metal conjugates to the vacuole. In the case of selenite toxicity, deletion of YCF1 was shown to confer increased resistance, rather than sensitivity, to selenite exposure [Pinson B, Sagot I & Daignan-Fornier B (2000) Mol Microbiol36, 679-687]. Here, we show that when Ycf1p is expressed from a multicopy plasmid, the toxicity of selenite is exacerbated. Using secretory vesicles isolated from a sec6-4 mutant transformed either with the plasmid harbouring YCF1 or the control plasmid, we establish that the glutathione-conjugate selenodigluthatione is a high-affinity substrate of this ATP-binding cassette transporter and that oxidized glutathione is also efficiently transported. Finally, we show that the presence of Ycf1p impairs the glutathione/oxidized glutathione ratio of cells subjected to a selenite stress. Possible mechanisms by which Ycf1p-mediated vacuolar uptake of selenodiglutathione and oxidized glutathione enhances selenite toxicity are discussed.
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