In Saccharomyces cerevisiae a number of chemical agents induce synthesis of cytochrome P450. A cytochrome P450 gene has been well characterized in this yeast: CYP51, which codes for a constitutive enzyme involved in the 14α-demethylation of lanosterol, a key step in the biosynthesis of ergosterol. In this work, we have analysed the level of transcription of the CYP51 gene in correlation with cytochrome P450 enzymatic activity after treatment with several chemical agents known to interact with cytochrome P450. Using as a probe a DNA fragment whose identity to the CYP51 gene was established by sequence analysis and mapping on chromosome VIII, a unique RNA species was observed in all treatment samples. The increased level found for this transcript in cells treated with ethanol, 20% glucose, phenobarbital or 5-methoxy-psoralen correlates with the levels of induction in cytochrome P450 enzymatic activity measured in cells grown under the same conditions, indicating that induction of cytochrome P450 by these treatments is regulated at the transcriptioal level.

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