Investigating host dependence of xylose utilization in recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains using RNA-seq analysis

Xueyang Feng, Huimin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Xylose-based ethanol production by recombinant S. cerevisiae is of great interest to basic and applied bioenergy research. By expressing three different fungal pathways in two S. cerevisiae hosts respectively, we found that the xylose utilization efficiency by recombinant S. cerevisiae depends not only on the choice of xylose pathway but also on the choice of host, exhibiting an obvious host or context dependence. To investigate molecular mechanisms of this context dependence, we applied RNA-seq analysis in this study for a systematic characterization of the xylose utilization via different pathways in different S. cerevisiae hosts. Results: Based on the RNA-seq analysis, the transcripts that were regulated during xylose utilization have been identified. Three transcription factors involved in regulation of amino acid metabolism, responses to oxidative stresses, and degradation of aggregated proteins, respectively, were found to participate in xylose metabolism regulation regardless of which pathway was expressed and which host the xylose pathway was expressed in. Nine transcription factors, involved in homeostasis, regulation of amino acid metabolism, and stress responses, were identified as the key modules responsible for the host-specific responses to the same xylose pathway. In addition, the transcriptional regulations of xylose utilization in different yeast hosts were compared to two reference regulation patterns, which indicated that diverse regulation strategies were adopted by different hosts for improved xylose utilization. Conclusions: This study provides the first transcriptomic study of the host dependence of xylose utilization in S. cerevisiae. Both the conserved regulatory modules for xylose metabolism and the key modules responsible for host dependence were identified. As indicated by the functions of the conserved transcription factors involved in xylose metabolism regulation, the xylose utilization in recombinant S. cerevisiae may be affected by both carbohydrate metabolism regulation and stress responses. Based on the comparison of transcriptional regulation patterns, the metabolic optimizations of xylose utilization in different hosts went toward different directions, which may explain the host dependence observed in this study. The knowledge revealed by this study could provide valuable insights towards the improvement of metabolic engineering strategies for cellulosic ethanol production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Host-specific response
  • Pathway switch
  • RNA-seq
  • S. cerevisiae
  • Transcriptional factors
  • Xylose metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Biotechnology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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