Enhanced tolerance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to multiple lignocellulose-derived inhibitors through modulation of spermidine contents

Sun Ki Kim, Yong Su Jin, In Geol Choi, Yong Cheol Park, Jin Ho Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fermentation inhibitors present in lignocellulose hydrolysates are inevitable obstacles for achieving economic production of biofuels and biochemicals by industrial microorganisms. Here we show that spermidine (SPD) functions as a chemical elicitor for enhanced tolerance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae against major fermentation inhibitors. In addition, the feasibility of constructing an engineered S. cerevisiae strain capable of tolerating toxic levels of the major inhibitors without exogenous addition of SPD was explored. Specifically, we altered expression levels of the genes in the SPD biosynthetic pathway. Also, OAZ1 coding for ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) antizyme and TPO1 coding for the polyamine transport protein were disrupted to increase intracellular SPD levels through alleviation of feedback inhibition on ODC and prevention of SPD excretion, respectively. Especially, the strain with combination of OAZ1 and TPO1 double disruption and overexpression of SPE3 not only contained spermidine content of 1.1. mg SPD/g cell, which was 171% higher than that of the control strain, but also exhibited 60% and 33% shorter lag-phase period than that of the control strain under the medium containing furan derivatives and acetic acid, respectively. While we observed a positive correlation between intracellular SPD contents and tolerance phenotypes among the engineered strains accumulating different amounts of intracellular SPD, too much SPD accumulation is likely to cause metabolic burden. Therefore, genetic perturbations for intracellular SPD levels should be optimized in terms of metabolic burden and SPD contents to construct inhibitor tolerant yeast strains. We also found that the genes involved in purine biosynthesis and cell wall and chromatin stability were related to the enhanced tolerance phenotypes to furfural. The robust strains constructed in this study can be applied for producing chemicals and advanced biofuels from cellulosic hydrolysates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Biofuels
  • Feedback inhibition
  • Fermentation inhibitors
  • Polyamine transport protein
  • RNA sequencing
  • Spermidine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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