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Concept: Saccharomyces cerevisiae


Whereas domestication of livestock, pets, and crops is well documented, it is still unclear to what extent microbes associated with the production of food have also undergone human selection and where the plethora of industrial strains originates from. Here, we present the genomes and phenomes of 157 industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts. Our analyses reveal that today’s industrial yeasts can be divided into five sublineages that are genetically and phenotypically separated from wild strains and originate from only a few ancestors through complex patterns of domestication and local divergence. Large-scale phenotyping and genome analysis further show strong industry-specific selection for stress tolerance, sugar utilization, and flavor production, while the sexual cycle and other phenotypes related to survival in nature show decay, particularly in beer yeasts. Together, these results shed light on the origins, evolutionary history, and phenotypic diversity of industrial yeasts and provide a resource for further selection of superior strains. PAPERCLIP.

Concepts: Gene, Natural selection, Evolution, Genome, Fungus, Phenotype, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brewing


The common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen has been associated with a reduced risk of some age-related pathologies. However, a general pro-longevity role for ibuprofen and its mechanistic basis remains unclear. Here we show that ibuprofen increased the lifespan of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, indicative of conserved eukaryotic longevity effects. Studies in yeast indicate that ibuprofen destabilizes the Tat2p permease and inhibits tryptophan uptake. Loss of Tat2p increased replicative lifespan (RLS), but ibuprofen did not increase RLS when Tat2p was stabilized or in an already long-lived strain background impaired for aromatic amino acid uptake. Concomitant with lifespan extension, ibuprofen moderately reduced cell size at birth, leading to a delay in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Similar changes in cell cycle progression were evident in a large dataset of replicatively long-lived yeast deletion strains. These results point to fundamental cell cycle signatures linked with longevity, implicate aromatic amino acid import in aging and identify a largely safe drug that extends lifespan across different kingdoms of life.

Concepts: Genome, Chromosome, Fungus, Model organism, Cell cycle, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Paracetamol


Intracellular triacylglycerol (TAG) is a ubiquitous energy storage lipid also involved in lipid homeostasis and signaling. Comparatively, little is known about TAG’s role in other cellular functions. Here we show a pro-longevity function of TAG in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In yeast strains derived from natural and laboratory environments a correlation between high levels of TAG and longer chronological lifespan was observed. Increased TAG abundance through the deletion of TAG lipases prolonged chronological lifespan of laboratory strains, while diminishing TAG biosynthesis shortened lifespan without apparently affecting vegetative growth. TAG-mediated lifespan extension was independent of several other known stress response factors involved in chronological aging. Because both lifespan regulation and TAG metabolism are conserved, this cellular pro-longevity function of TAG may extend to other organisms.

Concepts: Metabolism, Organism, Fungus, Yeast, Model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces pastorianus, Brewing


Distributed robustness is thought to influence the buffering of random phenotypic variation through the scale-free topology of gene regulatory, metabolic, and protein-protein interaction networks. If this hypothesis is true, then the phenotypic response to the perturbation of particular nodes in such a network should be proportional to the number of links those nodes make with neighboring nodes. This suggests a probability distribution approximating an inverse power-law of random phenotypic variation. Zero phenotypic variation, however, is impossible, because random molecular and cellular processes are essential to normal development. Consequently, a more realistic distribution should have a y-intercept close to zero in the lower tail, a mode greater than zero, and a long (fat) upper tail. The double Pareto-lognormal (DPLN) distribution is an ideal candidate distribution. It consists of a mixture of a lognormal body and upper and lower power-law tails.

Concepts: Evolution, Fungus, Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces pastorianus, Normal distribution, Probability distribution, Probability density function


BACKGROUND: Inorganic phosphate is an essential nutrient required by organisms for growth. During phosphate starvation, Saccharomyces cerevisiae activates the phosphate signal transduction (PHO) pathway, leading to expression of the secreted acid phosphatase, PHO5. The fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, regulates expression of the ScPHO5 homolog (pho1+) via a non-orthologous PHO pathway involving genetically identified positive (pho7+) and negative (csk1+) regulators. The genes induced by phosphate limitation and the molecular mechanism by which pho7+ and csk1+ function are unknown. Here we use a combination of molecular biology, expression microarrays, and chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-Seq) to characterize the role of pho7+ and csk1+ in the PHO response. RESULTS: We define the set of genes that comprise the initial response to phosphate starvation in S. pombe. We identify a conserved PHO response that contains the ScPHO5 (pho1+), ScPHO84 (SPBC8E4.01c), and ScGIT1 (SPBC1271.09) orthologs. We identify members of the Pho7 regulon and characterize Pho7 binding in response to phosphate-limitation and Csk1 activity. We demonstrate that activation of pho1+ requires Pho7 binding to a UAS in the pho1+ promoter and that Csk1 repression does not regulate Pho7 enrichment. Further, we find that Pho7-dependent activation is not limited to phosphate-starvation, as additional environmental stress response pathways require pho7+ for maximal induction. CONCLUSIONS: We provide a global analysis of the transcriptional response to phosphate limitation in S. pombe. Our results elucidate the conserved core regulon induced in response to phosphate starvation in this ascomycete distantly related to S. cerevisiae and provide a better understanding of flexibility in environmental stress response networks.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Yeast, Model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Ascomycota, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Yeasts


BACKGROUND: The inherent recalcitrance of lignocellulosic biomass is one of the major economic hurdles for the production of fuels and chemicals from biomass. Additionally, lignin is recognized as having a negative impact on enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass, and as a result much interest has been placed on modifying the lignin pathway to improve bioconversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks. RESULTS: Down-regulation of the caffeic acid 3-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene in the lignin pathway yielded switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) that was more susceptible to bioconversion after dilute acid pretreatment. Here we examined the response of these plant lines to milder pretreatment conditions with yeast-based simultaneous saccharification and fermentation and a consolidated bioprocessing approach using Clostridium thermocellum, Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis. Unlike the S. cerevisiae SSF conversions, fermentations of pretreated transgenic switchgrass with C. thermocellum showed an apparent inhibition of fermentation not observed in the wild-type switchgrass. This inhibition can be eliminated by hot water extraction of the pretreated biomass, which resulted in superior conversion yield with transgenic versus wild-type switchgrass for C. thermocellum, exceeding the yeast-based SSF yield. Further fermentation evaluation of the transgenic switchgrass indicated differential inhibition for the Caldicellulosiruptor sp. strains, which could not be rectified by additional processing conditions. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) metabolite profiling was used to examine the fermentation broth to elucidate the relative abundance of lignin derived aromatic compounds. The types and abundance of fermentation-derived-lignin constituents varied between C. thermocellum and each of the Caldicellulosiruptor sp. strains. CONCLUSIONS: The down-regulation of the COMT gene improves the bioconversion of switchgrass relative to the wild-type regardless of the pretreatment condition or fermentation microorganism. However, bacterial fermentations demonstrated strain-dependent sensitivity to the COMT transgenic biomass, likely due to additional soluble lignin pathway-derived constituents resulting from the COMT gene disruption. Removal of these inhibitory constituents permitted completion of fermentation by C. thermocellum, but not by the Caldicellulosiruptor sp. strains. The reason for this difference in performance is currently unknown.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Enzyme, Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cellulosic ethanol, Panicum


Beyond its classical biotechnological applications such as food and beverage production or as a cell factory, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a valuable model organism to study fundamental mechanisms of cell response to stressful environmental changes. Acetic acid is a physiological product of yeast fermentation and it is a well-known food preservative due to its antimicrobial action. Acetic acid has recently been shown to cause yeast cell death and aging. Here we shall focus on the molecular mechanisms of S. cerevisiae stress adaptation and programmed cell death in response to acetic acid. We shall elaborate on the intracellular signaling pathways involved in the cross-talk of pro-survival and pro-death pathways underlying the importance of understanding fundamental aspects of yeast cell homeostasis to improve the performance of a given yeast strain in biotechnological applications.

Concepts: Bacteria, Fungus, Ethanol, Yeast, Model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces pastorianus, Brewing


The blue-green phenazine, Pyocyanin (PYO), is a well-known virulence factor produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, notably during cystic fibrosis lung infections. It is toxic to both eukaryotic and bacterial cells and several mechanisms, including the induction of oxidative stress, have been postulated. However, the mechanism of PYO toxicity under the physiological conditions of oxygen limitation that are encountered by P. aeruginosa and by target organisms in vivo remains unclear. In this study, wild-type and mutant strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae were used as an effective eukaryotic model to determine the toxicity of PYO (100-500 μmol/L) under key growth conditions. Under respiro-fermentative conditions (with glucose as substrate), WT strains and certain H2 O2 -hypersensitive strains showed a low-toxic response to PYO. Under respiratory conditions (with glycerol as substrate) all the strains tested were significantly more sensitive to PYO. Four antioxidants were tested but only N-acetylcysteine was capable of partially counteracting PYO toxicity. PYO did not appear to affect short-term respiratory O2 uptake, but it did seem to interfere with cyanide-poisoned mitochondria through a complex III-dependent mechanism. Therefore, a combination of oxidative stress and respiration disturbance could partly explain aerobic PYO toxicity. Surprisingly, the toxic effects of PYO were more significant under anaerobic conditions. More pronounced effects were observed in several strains including a ‘petite’ strain lacking mitochondrial DNA, strains with increased or decreased levels of ABC transporters, and strains deficient in DNA damage repair. Therefore, even though PYO is toxic for actively respiring cells, O2 may indirectly protect the cells from the higher anaerobic-linked toxicity of PYO. The increased sensitivity to PYO under anaerobic conditions is not unique to S. cerevisiae and was also observed in another yeast, Candida albicans.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Mitochondrion, Fungus, Cellular respiration, Yeast, Cystic fibrosis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae


Variation in gene copy number can significantly affect organism fitness. When one allele is missing in a diploid, the phenotype can be compromised, due to haploinsufficiency. In this work we identified associations between Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene properties and genome-scale haploinsufficiency phenotypes from earlier work. We compared the haploinsufficiency profiles against 23 gene properties and found that genes with (i) higher level of connectivity (degree) in a protein-protein interaction network, (ii) higher genetic interaction degree, (iii) greater gene sequence conservation, and (iv) higher protein expression were significantly more likely to be haploinsufficient. Additionally, haploinsufficiency showed negative relationships with (v) cell cycle regulation and (vi) promoter sequence conservation. We exploited the aforementioned associations using Linear Discriminant Analysis to predict haploinsufficiency in existing data and guide experimental identification of 6 novel haploinsufficient phenotypes, previously undetected in genome-scale screenings. Using a similar approach we identified significant relationships between haploinsufficiency and two gene properties in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, relationships that hold despite the lack of conserved HI between S. cerevisiae and Sz. pombe orthologue pairs. These data suggest associations between haploinsufficiency and gene properties are conserved among hemiascomycetes yeasts. The relationships and predictive model presented here are a useful step towards understanding haploinsufficiency and its underlying mechanisms.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Genome, Yeast, Model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Ascomycota


This study is the first report of the entire nucleotide sequence of an inositol phosphoceramide synthase gene from the stress-tolerant yeast Pichia kudriavzevii (PkAUR1). Sequence analysis revealed an open reading frame that spans 1,443 bp and encodes a 480-amino-acid-residue protein with the highest sequence similarity (41.7%) to Aur1 from Spathaspora passalidarum. A phenotypic assay with transformed S. cerevisiae and P. kudriavzevii indicated that two amino acid residues, Phe166 and Gly249, play crucial roles in the resistance to aureobasidin A, which is consistent with previous reports for other fungal Aur1s. The GenBank Accession No. for PkAUR1 is KP729614.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Amino acid, Molecular biology, Fungus, Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae