GFP tagging of chromosomes in the nuclei of living cells showed that movement of the left arm of chromosome III is tightly constrained in MATα cells, but relatively free in MATa cells. Deleting the recombination enhancer (RE) sequence on chromosome III keeps the left arm constrained in both types of cells.
RE activity requires the transcriptional activator Fkh1p, and Bressan et al. suggest that Fkh1p competes for DNA binding with tethering factors that restrain the chromosome. In MATa cells, Fkh1p binding prevails, releasing the left arm and allowing HMLα to recombine with the MAT locus, whereas in MATα cells, restraint of the left arm leaves HMRa as the recombination donor. By directing cells to switch periodically to the opposite mating type, the system assures the availability of mating partners in a haploid population. ▪