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APJ1 and GRE3 homologs work in concert to allow growth in xylose in a natural Saccharomyces sensu stricto hybrid yeast

, : APJ1 and GRE3 homologs work in concert to allow growth in xylose in a natural Saccharomyces sensu stricto hybrid yeast. Genetics 191(2): 621-632

Creating Saccharomyces yeasts capable of efficient fermentation of pentoses such as xylose remains a key challenge in the production of ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass. Metabolic engineering of industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains has yielded xylose-fermenting strains, but these strains have not yet achieved industrial viability due largely to xylose fermentation being prohibitively slower than that of glucose. Recently, it has been shown that naturally occurring xylose-utilizing Saccharomyces species exist. Uncovering the genetic architecture of such strains will shed further light on xylose metabolism, suggesting additional engineering approaches or possibly even enabling the development of xylose-fermenting yeasts that are not genetically modified. We previously identified a hybrid yeast strain, the genome of which is largely Saccharomyces uvarum, which has the ability to grow on xylose as the sole carbon source. To circumvent the sterility of this hybrid strain, we developed a novel method to genetically characterize its xylose-utilization phenotype, using a tetraploid intermediate, followed by bulk segregant analysis in conjunction with high-throughput sequencing. We found that this strain's growth in xylose is governed by at least two genetic loci, within which we identified the responsible genes: one locus contains a known xylose-pathway gene, a novel homolog of the aldo-keto reductase gene GRE3, while a second locus contains a homolog of APJ1, which encodes a putative chaperone not previously connected to xylose metabolism. Our work demonstrates that the power of sequencing combined with bulk segregant analysis can also be applied to a nongenetically tractable hybrid strain that contains a complex, polygenic trait, and identifies new avenues for metabolic engineering as well as for construction of nongenetically modified xylose-fermenting strains.


PMID: 22426884

DOI: 10.1534/genetics.112.140053

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