Determination of the molecular and physiological basis of citric acid tolerance in spoilage yeast
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The ability of yeasts to grow and adapt under extreme environmental conditions including within the presence of weak organic acid preservatives has led to substantial economic losses through manufactured food and beverage spoilage. The food industry has employed the use of various weak organic acids such as sorbic, benzoic and acetic acid as preservatives to help prevent spoilage by yeasts and moulds. The mechanisms by which S. cerevisiae is able to adapt to these weak organic acids have been extensively studied. A lesser studied weak organic acid preservative is citric acid. The aim of this study was to gain further information on the mechanisms of citric acid adaptation and through this identify potential targets for new preservation strategies. Current knowledge indicates the involvement of the HOG pathway in citric acid adaptation. A citric acid sensitivity screen from a previous study also isolated a SR protein kinase Sky1p, involved in polyamine metabolism, which has been connected with other crucial cellular processes including modulation of ion homeostasis and osmotic shock. In this study we have undertaken a systematic screen for genes that confer increased sensitivity to citric acid paying particular attention to those involved in polyamine metabolism and those known to encode proteins which have evidence of interactions with Sky1p. Many of the deletion strains tested exhibited hypersensitivity to citric acid including Δsky1. Protein-protein interaction maps for Sky1p highlighted an interesting secondary interacting protein Nmd5p, an importin crucial for the nuclear localization of Hog1p. This information suggested there may be the possibility of linkage between Sky1p and Hog1p and their roles in citric acid tolerance, perhaps through Nmd5p. This provided an incentive to perform a range of experiments to test this theory. Proteomic and phosphoproteomic analyses were carried out to study protein expression and phosphorylation changes in response to citric acid stress. Comparative proteomic analyses for Δsky1, Δhog1 and BY4741a with and without citric acid identified four instances of analogous protein expression responses in both Δsky1 and Δhog1, suggesting functional overlap upon exposure to citric acid. Epistasis studies of Δhog1Δsky1 suggested that the two protein kinases do not function on the same pathway. However, overexpression analyses did suggest some functional interaction between Hog1p and Sky1p in mediating citric acid resistance since overexpression of Sky1p in Δhog1 resulted in partial rescue of growth. Further supporting evidence for some functional interaction or linkage was provided by Hog1p phosphorylation and localisation studies. Δsky1 exhibited dual phosphorylation of Hog1p in the absence of citric acid stress; implying that loss of SKY1 results in dual phosphorylation of Hog1p by either prompting phosphorylation or perhaps by interfering with dephosphorylation of Hog1p. Localisation studies of Hog1p proved that like osmotic stress, citric acid stress results in nuclear translocation of Hog1p and deletion of SKY1 seemed to interfere with this localisation to some extent. In light of the results attained in this study we believe we have evidence to propose a novel role for Sky1p in mediating resistance to citric acid and that there is also substantial evidence to suggest that Sky1p shares some functional redundancy and perhaps functional linkage with Hog1p in citric acid adaptation.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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