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Open Access Research

Physiological adaptations of Saccharomyces cerevisiae evolved for improved butanol tolerance

Payam Ghiaci, Joakim Norbeck and Christer Larsson*

Author Affiliations

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, System and Synthetic Biology, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

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Biotechnology for Biofuels 2013, 6:101  doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-101

Published: 15 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Butanol is a chemical with potential uses as biofuel and solvent, which can be produced by microbial fermentation. However, the end product toxicity is one of the main obstacles for developing the production process irrespective of the choice of production organism. The long-term goal of the present project is to produce 2-butanol in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Therefore, unraveling the toxicity mechanisms of solvents such as butanol and understanding the mechanisms by which tolerant strains of S. cerevisiae adapt to them would be an important contribution to the development of a bio-based butanol production process.

Results

A butanol tolerant S. cerevisiae was achieved through a series of sequential batch cultures with gradual increase of 2-butanol concentration. The final mutant (JBA-mut) tolerates all different alcohols tested at higher concentrations compared to the wild type (JBA-wt). Proteomics analysis of the two strains grown under mild butanol-stress revealed 46 proteins changing their expression by more than 1.5-fold in JBA-mut, 34 of which were upregulated. Strikingly, 21 out of the 34 upregulated proteins were predicted constituents of mitochondria. Among the non-mitochondrial up-regulated proteins, the minor isoform of Glycerol-3-phosphatase (Gpp2) was the most notable, since it was the only tested protein whose overexpression was found to confer butanol tolerance.

Conclusion

The study demonstrates several differences between the butanol tolerant mutant and the wild type. Upregulation of proteins involved in the mitochondrial ATP synthesizing machinery constituents and glycerol biosynthesis seem to be beneficial for a successful adaptation of yeast cells to butanol stress.

Keywords:
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Butanol; Tolerance; Proteomics