Optimal growth and ethanol production from xylose by recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae require moderate D-xylulokinase activity

Yong Su Jin, Haiying Ni, Jose M. Laplaza, Thomas W. Jeffries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


D-Xylulokinase (XK) is essential for the metabolism of D-xylose in yeasts. However, overexpression of genes for XK, such as the Pichia stipitis XYL3 gene and the Saccharomyces cerevisiae XKS gene, can inhibit growth of S. cerevisiae on xylose. We varied the copy number and promoter strength of XYL3 or XKS1 to see how XK activity can affect xylose metabolism in S. cerevisiae. The S. cerevisiae genetic background included single integrated copies of P. stipitis XYL1 and XYL2 driven by the S. cerevisiae TDH1 promoter. Multicopy and single-copy constructs with either XYL3 or XKS1, likewise under control of the TDH1 promoter, or with the native P. stipitis promoter were introduced into the recombinant S. cerevisiae. In vitro enzymatic activity of XK increased with copy number and promoter strength. Overexpression of XYL3 and XKS1 inhibited growth on xylose but did not affect growth on glucose even though XK activities were three times higher in glucose-grown cells. Growth inhibition increased and ethanol yields from xylose decreased with increasing XK activity. Uncontrolled XK expression in recombinant S. cerevisiae is inhibitory in a manner analogous to the substrate-accelerated cell death observed with an S. cerevisiae tps1 mutant during glucose metabolism. To bypass this effect, we transformed cells with a tunable expression vector containing XYL3 under the control of its native promoter into the FPL-YS1020 strain and screened the transformants for growth on, and ethanol production from, xylose. The selected transformant had approximately four copies of XYL3 per haploid genome and had moderate XK activity. It converted xylose into ethanol efficiently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-503
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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