Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes related to respiration are typically controlled by oxygen and haem. Usually the regulation by these factors is co-ordinated; haem is indicated as the oxygen sensor. However, the responsiveness of peroxisome functions to these regulatory factors is poorly understood. The expression of CTA1, POX1 and PEX1 genes encoding the peroxisomal proteins catalase A, acyl-CoA oxidase and Pex1p peroxin respectively was studied under various conditions: in anaerobiosis, in the absence of haem and in respiratory incompetence caused by the lack of a mitochondrial genome (ρ0). The influence of haem deficiency or ρ0 on peroxisomal morphology was also investigated. Respiratory incompetence has no effect on the expression of CTA1 and POX1, whereas in the absence of haem their expression is markedly decreased. The synthesis of Pex1p is decreased in ρ0 cells and is decreased even more in haem-deficient cells. Nevertheless, peroxisomal morphology in both these types of cell does not differ significantly from the morphology of peroxisomes in wild-type cells. The down-regulating effect of anoxia on the expression of CTA1 and POX1 is even stronger than the effect of haem deficiency and is not reversed by the addition of exogenous haem or the presence of endogenous haem. Moreover, neither of these genes responds to the known haem-controlled transcriptional factor Hap1p. In contrast with the other two genes studied, PEX1 is up-regulated in anaerobiosis. The existence of one or more novel mechanisms of regulation of peroxisomal genes by haem and oxygen, different from those already known in S. cerevisiae, is postulated.

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