A mutation in PGM2 causing inefficient galactose metabolism in the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii

Jing Jing Liu, Guo Chang Zhang, In Iok Kong, Eun Ju Yun, Jia Qi Zheng, Dae Hyuk Kweon, Yong Su Jin

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The probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii has been extensively studied for the prevention and treatment of diarrheal diseases, and it is now commercially available in some countries. S. boulardii displays notable phenotypic characteristics, such as a high optimal growth temperature, high tolerance against acidic conditions, and the inability to form ascospores, which differentiate S. boulardii from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The majority of prior studies stated that S. boulardii exhibits sluggish or halted galactose utilization. Nonetheless, the molecular mechanisms underlying inefficient galactose uptake have yet to be elucidated. When the galactose utilization of a widely used S. boulardii strain, ATCC MYA-796, was examined under various culture conditions, the S. boulardii strain could consume galactose, but at a much lower rate than that of S. cerevisiae. While all GAL genes were present in the S. boulardii genome, according to analysis of genomic sequencing data in a previous study, a point mutation (G1278A) in PGM2, which codes for phosphoglucomutase, was identified in the genome of the S. boulardii strain. As the point mutation resulted in the truncation of the Pgm2 protein, which is known to play a pivotal role in galactose utilization, we hypothesized that the truncated Pgm2 might be associated with inefficient galactose metabolism. Indeed, complementation of S. cerevisiae PGM2 in S. boulardii restored galactose utilization. After reverting the point mutation to a full-length PGM2 in S. boulardii by Cas9-based genome editing, the growth rates of wild-type (with a truncated PGM2 gene) and mutant (with a full-length PGM2) strains with glucose or galactose as the carbon source were examined. As expected, the mutant (with a full-length PGM2) was able to ferment galactose faster than the wild-type strain. Interestingly, the mutant showed a lower growth rate than that of the wild-type strain on glucose at 37°C. Also, the wild-type strain was enriched in the mixed culture of wild-type and mutant strains on glucose at 37°C, suggesting that the truncated PGM2 might offer better growth on glucose at a higher temperature in return for inefficient galactose utilization. Our results suggest that the point mutation in PGM2 might be involved in multiple phenotypes with different effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02858-17
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Galactose
  • Genome editing
  • PGM2
  • Saccharomyces boulardii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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