Background: Furfural is a major growth inhibitor in lignocellulosic hydrolysates and improving furfural tolerance of microorganisms is critical for rapid and efficient fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass. In this study, we used the RNAi-Assisted Genome Evolution (RAGE) method to select for furfural resistant mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and identified a new determinant of furfural tolerance. Results: By using a genome-wide RNAi (RNA-interference) screen in S. cerevisiae for genes involved in furfural tolerance, we identified SIZ1, a gene encoding an E3 SUMO-protein ligase. Disruption of SIZ1 gene function by knockdown or deletion conferred significantly higher furfural tolerance compared to other previously reported metabolic engineering strategies in S. cerevisiae. This improved furfural tolerance of siz1Δ cells is accompanied by rapid furfural reduction to furfuryl alcohol and leads to higher ethanol productivity in the presence of furfural. In addition, the siz1Δ mutant also exhibited tolerance towards oxidative stress, suggesting that oxidative stress tolerance related proteins may be under the SUMO regulation of SIZ1p and responsible for furfural tolerance. Conclusions: Using a genome-wide approach, we identified a novel determinant for furfural tolerance, providing valuable insights into the design of recombinant microbes for efficient lignocellulose fermentation.
- Furfural tolerance
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae
- SUMO E3 ligase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology