A novel AST2 mutation generated upon whole-genome transformation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae confers high tolerance to 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and other inhibitors.
Development of cell factories for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysates into biofuels or bio-based chemicals faces major challenges, including the presence of inhibitory chemicals derived from biomass hydrolysis or pretreatment. Extensive screening of 2526 Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains and 17 non-conventional yeast species identified a Candida glabrata strain as the most 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) tolerant. Whole-genome (WG) transformation of the second-generation industrial S. cerevisiae strain MD4 with genomic DNA from C. glabrata, but not from non-tolerant strains, allowed selection of stable transformants in the presence of HMF. Transformant GVM0 showed the highest HMF tolerance for growth on plates and in small-scale fermentations. Comparison of the WG sequence of MD4 and GVM1, a diploid segregant of GVM0 with similarly high HMF tolerance, surprisingly revealed only nine non-synonymous SNPs, of which none were present in the C. glabrata genome. Reciprocal hemizygosity analysis in diploid strain GVM1 revealed AST2N406I as the only causative mutation. This novel SNP improved tolerance to HMF, furfural and other inhibitors, when introduced in different yeast genetic backgrounds and both in synthetic media and lignocellulose hydrolysates. It stimulated disappearance of HMF and furfural from the medium and enhanced in vitro furfural NADH-dependent reducing activity. The corresponding mutation present in AST1 (i.e. AST1D405I) the paralog gene of AST2, also improved inhibitor tolerance but only in combination with AST2N406I and in presence of high inhibitor concentrations. Our work provides a powerful genetic tool to improve yeast inhibitor tolerance in lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysates and other inhibitor-rich industrial media, and it has revealed for the first time a clear function for Ast2 and Ast1 in inhibitor tolerance.更多