Function and expression of flavohemoglobin in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Evidence for a role in the oxidative stress response

Xiao Jian Zhao, Desmond Raitt, Patricia V. Burke, Amy S. Clewell, Kurt E. Kwast, Robert O. Poyton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have studied the function and expression of the flavohemoglobin (YHb) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This protein is a member of a family of flavohemoproteins, which contain both heme and flavin binding domains and which are capable of transferring electrons from NADPH to heme iron. Normally, actively respiring yeast cells have very low levels of the flavohemoglobin. However, its intracellular levels are greatly increased in cells in which the mitochondrial electron transport chain has been compromised by either mutation or inhibitors of respiration. The expression of the flavohemoglobin gene, YHB1, of S. cerevisiae is sensitive to oxygen. Expression is optimal in hyperoxic conditions or in air and is reduced under hypoxic and anaerobic conditions. The expression of YHB1 in aerobic cells is enhanced in the presence of antimycin A, in thiol oxidants, or in strains that lack superoxide dismutase. All three conditions lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species and promote oxidative stress. To study the function of flavohemoglobin in vivo, we created a null mutation in the chromosomal copy of YHB1. The deletion of the flavohemoglobin gene in these cells does not affect growth in either rho(o) or rho+ genetic backgrounds. In addition, a rho+ strain carrying a yhb1-deletion has normal levels of both cyanide-sensitive and cyanide-insensitive respiration, indicating that the flavohemoglobin does not function as a terminal oxidase and is not required for the function or expression of the alternative oxidase system in S. cerevisiae. Cells that carry a yhb1- deletion are sensitive to conditions that promote oxidative stress. This finding is consistent with the observation that conditions that promote oxidative stress also enhance expression of YHB1. Together, these findings suggest that YHb plays a role in the oxidative stress response in yeast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25131-25138
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number41
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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