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1.  Co-production of ethanol and squalene using a Saccharomyces cerevisiae ERG1 (squalene epoxidase) mutant and agro-industrial feedstock 
Biotechnology for Biofuels  2014;7(1):133.
Genetically customised Saccharomyces cerevisiae that can produce ethanol and additional bio-based chemicals from sustainable agro-industrial feedstocks (for example, residual plant biomass) are of major interest to the biofuel industry. We investigated the microbial biorefinery concept of ethanol and squalene co-production using S. cerevisiae (strain YUG37-ERG1) wherein ERG1 (squalene epoxidase) transcription is under the control of a doxycycline-repressible tet07-CYC1 promoter. The production of ethanol and squalene by YUG37-ERG1 grown using agriculturally sourced grass juice supplemented with doxycycline was assessed.
Use of the tet07-CYC1 promoter permitted regulation of ERG1 expression and squalene accumulation in YUG37-ERG1, allowing us to circumvent the lethal growth phenotype seen when ERG1 is disrupted completely. In experiments using grass juice feedstock supplemented with 0 to 50 μg doxycycline mL−1, YUG37-ERG1 fermented ethanol (22.5 [±0.5] mg mL−1) and accumulated the highest squalene content (7.89 ± 0.25 mg g−1 dry biomass) and yield (18.0 ± 4.18 mg squalene L−1) with supplements of 5.0 and 0.025 μg doxycycline mL−1, respectively. Grass juice was found to be rich in water-soluble carbohydrates (61.1 [±3.6] mg sugars mL−1) and provided excellent feedstock for growth and fermentation studies using YUG37-ERG1.
Residual plant biomass components from crop production and rotation systems represent possible substrates for microbial fermentation of biofuels and bio-based compounds. This study is the first to utilise S. cerevisiae for the co-production of ethanol and squalene from grass juice. Our findings underscore the value of the biorefinery approach and demonstrate the potential to integrate microbial bioprocess engineering with existing agriculture.
PMCID: PMC4189534  PMID: 25298782
Bio-based products; ERG1; Ethanol; Sterol; Squalene; Squalene epoxidase
2.  Co-production of bioethanol and probiotic yeast biomass from agricultural feedstock: application of the rural biorefinery concept 
AMB Express  2014;4:64.
Microbial biotechnology and biotransformations promise to diversify the scope of the biorefinery approach for the production of high-value products and biofuels from industrial, rural and municipal waste feedstocks. In addition to bio-based chemicals and metabolites, microbial biomass itself constitutes an obvious but overlooked by-product of existing biofermentation systems which warrants fuller attention. The probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii is used to treat gastrointestinal disorders and marketed as a human health supplement. Despite its relatedness to S. cerevisiae that is employed widely in biotechnology, food and biofuel industries, the alternative applications of S. boulardii are not well studied. Using a biorefinery approach, we compared the bioethanol and biomass yields attainable from agriculturally-sourced grass juice using probiotic S. boulardii (strain MYA-769) and a commercial S. cerevisiae brewing strain (Turbo yeast). Maximum product yields for MYA-769 (39.18 [±2.42] mg ethanol mL−1 and 4.96 [±0.15] g dry weight L−1) compared closely to those of Turbo (37.43 [±1.99] mg mL−1 and 4.78 [±0.10] g L−1, respectively). Co-production, marketing and/or on-site utilisation of probiotic yeast biomass as a direct-fed microbial to improve livestock health represents a novel and viable prospect for rural biorefineries. Given emergent evidence to suggest that dietary yeast supplementations might also mitigate ruminant enteric methane emissions, the administration of probiotic yeast biomass could also offer an economically feasible way of reducing atmospheric CH4.
PMCID: PMC4230830  PMID: 25401067
Bioethanol; Biomass; Biorefinery; Cholesterol; Probiotic; Saccharomyces boulardii
3.  Two Clinical Isolates of Candida glabrata Exhibiting Reduced Sensitivity to Amphotericin B Both Harbor Mutations in ERG2 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2012;56(12):6417-6421.
Two novel isolates of Candida glabrata exhibiting reduced sensitivity to amphotericin B (MIC, 8 μg ml−1) were found to be ERG2 mutants, wherein Δ8-sterol intermediates comprised >90% of the total cellular sterol fraction. Both harbored an alteration at Thr121 in ERG2; the corresponding residue (Thr119) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is essential for sterol Δ8-Δ7 isomerization. This constitutes the first report of C. glabrata harboring mutations in ERG2 and exhibiting reduced sensitivity to amphotericin B.
PMCID: PMC3497184  PMID: 23027188
4.  Facultative Sterol Uptake in an Ergosterol-Deficient Clinical Isolate of Candida glabrata Harboring a Missense Mutation in ERG11 and Exhibiting Cross-Resistance to Azoles and Amphotericin B 
We identified a clinical isolate of Candida glabrata (CG156) exhibiting flocculent growth and cross-resistance to fluconazole (FLC), voriconazole (VRC), and amphotericin B (AMB), with MICs of >256, >256, and 32 μg ml−1, respectively. Sterol analysis using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) revealed that CG156 was a sterol 14α-demethylase (Erg11p) mutant, wherein 14α-methylated intermediates (lanosterol was >80% of the total) were the only detectable sterols. ERG11 sequencing indicated that CG156 harbored a single-amino-acid substitution (G315D) which nullified the function of native Erg11p. In heterologous expression studies using a doxycycline-regulatable Saccharomyces cerevisiae erg11 strain, wild-type C. glabrata Erg11p fully complemented the function of S. cerevisiae sterol 14α-demethylase, restoring growth and ergosterol synthesis in recombinant yeast; mutated CG156 Erg11p did not. CG156 was culturable using sterol-free, glucose-containing yeast minimal medium (glcYM). However, when grown on sterol-supplemented glcYM (with ergosta 7,22-dienol, ergosterol, cholestanol, cholesterol, Δ7-cholestenol, or desmosterol), CG156 cultures exhibited shorter lag phases, reached higher cell densities, and showed alterations in cellular sterol composition. Unlike comparator isolates (harboring wild-type ERG11) that became less sensitive to FLC and VRC when cultured on sterol-supplemented glcYM, facultative sterol uptake by CG156 did not affect its azole-resistant phenotype. Conversely, CG156 grown using glcYM with ergosterol (or with ergosta 7,22-dienol) showed increased sensitivity to AMB; CG156 grown using glcYM with cholesterol (or with cholestanol) became more resistant (MICs of 2 and >64 μg AMB ml−1, respectively). Our results provide insights into the consequences of sterol uptake and metabolism on growth and antifungal resistance in C. glabrata.
PMCID: PMC3421581  PMID: 22615281
5.  S279 Point Mutations in Candida albicans Sterol 14-α Demethylase (CYP51) Reduce In Vitro Inhibition by Fluconazole 
The effects of S279F and S279Y point mutations in Candida albicans CYP51 (CaCYP51) on protein activity and on substrate (lanosterol) and azole antifungal binding were investigated. Both S279F and S279Y mutants bound lanosterol with 2-fold increased affinities (Ks, 7.1 and 8.0 μM, respectively) compared to the wild-type CaCYP51 protein (Ks, 13.5 μM). The S279F and S279Y mutants and the wild-type CaCYP51 protein bound fluconazole, voriconazole, and itraconazole tightly, producing typical type II binding spectra. However, the S279F and S279Y mutants had 4- to 5-fold lower affinities for fluconazole, 3.5-fold lower affinities for voriconazole, and 3.5- to 4-fold lower affinities for itraconazole than the wild-type CaCYP51 protein. The S279F and S279Y mutants gave 2.3- and 2.8-fold higher 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) for fluconazole in a CYP51 reconstitution assay than the wild-type protein did. The increased fluconazole resistance conferred by the S279F and S279Y point mutations appeared to be mediated through a combination of a higher affinity for substrate and a lower affinity for fluconazole. In addition, lanosterol displaced fluconazole from the S279F and S279Y mutants but not from the wild-type protein. Molecular modeling of the wild-type protein indicated that the oxygen atom of S507 interacts with the second triazole ring of fluconazole, assisting in orientating fluconazole so that a more favorable binding conformation to heme is achieved. In contrast, in the two S279 mutant proteins, this S507-fluconazole interaction is absent, providing an explanation for the higher Kd values observed.
PMCID: PMC3318376  PMID: 22252802

Results 1-5 (5)