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Concept: Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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


Many crops display differential geographic phenotypes and sensorial signatures, encapsulated by the concept of terroir. The drivers behind these differences remain elusive, and the potential contribution of microbes has been ignored until recently. Significant genetic differentiation between microbial communities and populations from different geographic locations has been demonstrated, but crucially it has not been shown whether this correlates with differential agricultural phenotypes or not. Using wine as a model system, we utilize the regionally genetically differentiated population of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in New Zealand and objectively demonstrate that these populations differentially affect wine phenotype, which is driven by a complex mix of chemicals. These findings reveal the importance of microbial populations for the regional identity of wine, and potentially extend to other important agricultural commodities. Moreover, this suggests that long-term implementation of methods maintaining differential biodiversity may have tangible economic imperatives as well as being desirable in terms of employing agricultural practices that increase responsible environmental stewardship.

Concepts: Natural selection, Region, Evolution, Gene, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brewing, Model organism, Microbiology


Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) are a diverse family of plant-specialized metabolites that include the pharmaceuticals codeine and morphine and their derivatives. Microbial synthesis of BIAs holds promise as an alternative to traditional crop-based manufacturing. Here we demonstrate the production of the key BIA intermediate (S)-reticuline from glucose in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To aid in this effort, we developed an enzyme-coupled biosensor for the upstream intermediate L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA). Using this sensor, we identified an active tyrosine hydroxylase and improved its L-DOPA yields by 2.8-fold via PCR mutagenesis. Coexpression of DOPA decarboxylase enabled what is to our knowledge the first demonstration of dopamine production from glucose in yeast, with a 7.4-fold improvement in titer obtained for our best mutant enzyme. We extended this pathway to fully reconstitute the seven-enzyme pathway from L-tyrosine to (S)-reticuline. Future work to improve titers and connect these steps with downstream pathway branches, already demonstrated in S. cerevisiae, will enable low-cost production of many high-value BIAs.

Concepts: Cell cycle, Yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, L-DOPA, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brewing, Fungus, Dopamine


Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the most important model organisms and has been a valuable asset to human civilization. However, despite its extensive use in the last 9,000 y, the existence of a seasonal cycle outside human-made environments has not yet been described. We demonstrate the role of social wasps as vector and natural reservoir of S. cerevisiae during all seasons. We provide experimental evidence that queens of social wasps overwintering as adults (Vespa crabro and Polistes spp.) can harbor yeast cells from autumn to spring and transmit them to their progeny. This result is mirrored by field surveys of the genetic variability of natural strains of yeast. Microsatellites and sequences of a selected set of loci able to recapitulate the yeast strain’s evolutionary history were used to compare 17 environmental wasp isolates with a collection of strains from grapes from the same region and more than 230 strains representing worldwide yeast variation. The wasp isolates fall into subclusters representing the overall ecological and industrial yeast diversity of their geographic origin. Our findings indicate that wasps are a key environmental niche for the evolution of natural S. cerevisiae populations, the dispersion of yeast cells in the environment, and the maintenance of their diversity. The close relatedness of several wasp isolates with grape and wine isolates reflects the crucial role of human activities on yeast population structure, through clonal expansion and selection of specific strains during the biotransformation of fermented foods, followed by dispersal mediated by insects and other animals.

Concepts: Ecology, Natural environment, Evolution, Brewing, Model organism, Fungus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Yeast


Opiates and related molecules are medically essential, but their production via field cultivation of opium poppy Papaver somniferum leads to supply inefficiencies and insecurity. As an alternative production strategy, we developed baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a microbial host for the transformation of opiates. Yeast strains engineered to express heterologous genes from P. somniferum and bacterium Pseudomonas putida M10 convert thebaine to codeine, morphine, hydromorphone, hydrocodone and oxycodone. We discovered a new biosynthetic branch to neopine and neomorphine, which diverted pathway flux from morphine and other target products. We optimized strain titer and specificity by titrating gene copy number, enhancing cosubstrate supply, applying a spatial engineering strategy and performing high-density fermentation, which resulted in total opioid titers up to 131 mg/l. This work is an important step toward total biosynthesis of valuable benzylisoquinoline alkaloid drug molecules and demonstrates the potential for developing a sustainable and secure yeast biomanufacturing platform for opioids.

Concepts: Hydrocodone, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Opioid, Opium, Opiate, Opium poppy, Codeine, Morphine


We describe complete design of a synthetic eukaryotic genome, Sc2.0, a highly modified Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome reduced in size by nearly 8%, with 1.1 megabases of the synthetic genome deleted, inserted, or altered. Sc2.0 chromosome design was implemented with BioStudio, an open-source framework developed for eukaryotic genome design, which coordinates design modifications from nucleotide to genome scales and enforces version control to systematically track edits. To achieve complete Sc2.0 genome synthesis, individual synthetic chromosomes built by Sc2.0 Consortium teams around the world will be consolidated into a single strain by “endoreduplication intercross.” Chemically synthesized genomes like Sc2.0 are fully customizable and allow experimentalists to ask otherwise intractable questions about chromosome structure, function, and evolution with a bottom-up design strategy.

Concepts: Chromosome, Bacteria, Fungus, Cell cycle, Mitosis, Gene, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, DNA


Morphinan alkaloids are the most powerful narcotic analgesics currently used to treat moderate to severe and chronic pain. The feasibility of morphinan synthesis in recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae starting from the precursor (R,S)-norlaudanosoline was investigated. Chiral analysis of the reticuline produced by the expression of opium poppy methyltransferases showed strict enantioselectivity for (S)-reticuline starting from (R,S)-norlaudanosoline. In addition, the P. somniferum enzymes salutaridine synthase (PsSAS), salutaridine reductase (PsSAR) and salutaridinol acetyltransferase (PsSAT) were functionally co-expressed in S. cerevisiae and optimization of the pH conditions allowed for productive spontaneous rearrangement of salutaridinol-7-O-acetate and synthesis of thebaine from ®-reticuline. Finally, we reconstituted a 7-gene pathway for the production of codeine and morphine from ®-reticuline. Yeast cell feeding assays using ®-reticuline, salutaridine or codeine as substrates showed that all enzymes were functionally co-expressed in yeast and that activity of salutaridine reductase and codeine-O-demethylase likely limit flux to morphine synthesis. The results of this study describe a significant advance for the synthesis of morphinans in S. cerevisiae and pave the way for their complete synthesis in recombinant microbes.

Concepts: Yeast, Codeine, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Opium, Brewing, Fungus, Opium poppy, Morphine


Whole-genome duplications have shaped the genomes of several vertebrate, plant, and fungal lineages. Earlier studies have focused on establishing when these events occurred and on elucidating their functional and evolutionary consequences, but we still lack sufficient understanding of how genome duplications first originated. We used phylogenomics to study the ancient genome duplication occurred in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae lineage and found compelling evidence for the existence of a contemporaneous interspecies hybridization. We propose that the genome doubling was a direct consequence of this hybridization and that it served to provide stability to the recently formed allopolyploid. This scenario provides a mechanism for the origin of this ancient duplication and the lineage that originated from it and brings a new perspective to the interpretation of the origin and consequences of whole-genome duplications.

Concepts: Cell cycle, Polyploidy, Evolution, Yeast, Fungus, Gene duplication, Genome, Saccharomyces cerevisiae


Type IV P-type ATPases (P4-ATPases) catalyze translocation of phospholipid across a membrane to establish an asymmetric bilayer structure with phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) restricted to the cytosolic leaflet. The mechanism for how P4-ATPases recognize and flip phospholipid is unknown, and is described as the “giant substrate problem” because the canonical substrate binding pockets of homologous cation pumps are too small to accommodate a bulky phospholipid. Here, we identify residues that confer differences in substrate specificity between Drs2 and Dnf1, Saccharomyces cerevisiae P4-ATPases that preferentially flip PS and phosphatidylcholine (PC), respectively. Transplanting transmembrane segments 3 and 4 (TM3-4) of Drs2 into Dnf1 alters the substrate preference of Dnf1 from PC to PS. Acquisition of the PS substrate maps to a Tyr618Phe substitution in TM4 of Dnf1, representing the loss of a single hydroxyl group. The reciprocal Phe511Tyr substitution in Drs2 specifically abrogates PS recognition by this flippase causing PS exposure on the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane without disrupting PE asymmetry. TM3 and the adjoining lumenal loop contribute residues important for Dnf1 PC preference, including Phe587. Modeling of residues involved in substrate selection suggests a novel P-type ATPase transport pathway at the protein/lipid interface and a potential solution to the giant substrate problem.

Concepts: ATP12A, Flippase, Transmembrane protein, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Membrane biology, Phospholipid, Integral membrane proteins, Cell membrane


The molecules and pathways of the gut-brain axis represent new targets for developing methods to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders. Manipulation of the gut microbiome with probiotics may be a therapeutic strategy with the potential to relieve gastrointestinal (GI) comorbidities and improve psychiatric symptoms. Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commensal yeast species, can be imbalanced in the unhealthy human microbiome, and these fungal exposures were previously found elevated in schizophrenia. In a longitudinal, double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot investigation of 56 outpatients with schizophrenia, we examined the impact of probiotic treatment on yeast antibody levels, and the relationship between treatment and antibody levels on bowel discomfort and psychiatric symptoms. We found that probiotic treatment significantly reduced C. albicans antibodies over the 14-week study period in males, but not in females. Antibody levels of S. cerevisiae were not altered in either treatment group. The highest levels of bowel discomfort over time occurred in C. albicans-seropositive males receiving the placebo. We observed trends toward improvement in positive psychiatric symptoms in males treated with probiotics who were seronegative for C. albicans. Results from this pilot study hint at an association of C. albicans seropositivity with worse positive psychiatric symptoms, which was confirmed in a larger cohort of 384 males with schizophrenia. In conclusion, the administration of probiotics may help normalize C. albicans antibody levels and C. albicans-associated gut discomfort in many male individuals. Studies with larger sample sizes are warranted to address the role of probiotics in correcting C. albicans-associated psychiatric symptoms. identifier: NCT01242371.

Concepts: Yeasts, Candida albicans, Mental disorder, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Ascomycota, Gut flora, Fungus, Yeast