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Yeast chemogenomic screen identifies distinct metabolic pathways required to tolerate exposure to phenolic fermentation inhibitors ferulic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid and coniferyl aldehyde

Fletcher, Eugene, Gao, Kai, Mercurio, Kevin, Ali, Mariam, Baetz, Kristin
Metabolic engineering 2019 v.52 pp. 98-109
4-hydroxybenzoic acid, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, aldehydes, biofuels, endoplasmic reticulum, engineering, enzymes, fermentation, ferulic acid, glucose 6-phosphate, high-value products, hydrolysates, hydrolysis, lignocellulose, mitochondria, mutants, pentose phosphate cycle, pentoses, reactive oxygen species, toxic substances, toxicity, yeasts
The conversion of plant material into biofuels and high value products is a two-step process of hydrolysing plant lignocellulose and next fermenting the sugars produced. However, lignocellulosic hydrolysis not only frees sugars for fermentation it simultaneously generates toxic chemicals, including phenolic compounds which severely inhibit yeast fermentation. To understand the molecular basis of phenolic compound toxicity, we performed genome-wide chemogenomic screens in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to identify deletion mutants that were either hypersensitive or resistant to three common phenolic compounds found in plant hydrolysates: coniferyl aldehyde, ferulic acid and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid. Despite being similar in structure, our screen revealed that yeast utilizes distinct pathways to tolerate phenolic compound exposure. Furthermore, although each phenolic compound induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), ferulic acid and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid-induced a general cytoplasmic ROS distribution while coniferyl aldehyde-induced ROS partially localized to the mitochondria and to a lesser extent, the endoplasmic reticulum. We found that the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme Zwf1, which catalyzes the rate limiting step of pentose phosphate pathway, is required for reducing the accummulation of coniferyl aldehyde-induced ROS, potentially through the sequestering of Zwf1 to sites of ROS accumulation. Our novel insights into biological impact of three common phenolic inhibitors will inform the engineering of yeast strains with improved efficiency of biofuel and biochemical production in the presence hydrolysate-derived phenolic compounds.