Mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were isolated which were blocked in heme biosynthesis and required heme for growth on a nonfermentable carbon source. They were rho+, and grew fermentatively on ergosterol or cholesterol and Tween 80, as a source of oleic acid. Cells grown on ergosterol and Tween 80 lacked cytochromes and catalase which were restored by growth on heme. The mutants comprised five nonoverlapping complementation groups. Tetrad analysis showed that the pleiotropic properties of each of the mutants resulted from a single mutation in one of five unlinked loci (hem1 to hem5) affecting heme biosynthesis. Biochemical studies confirmed that each mutation resulted in loss of a single enzyme activity. hem1 mutants grew on delta-aminolevulinate and lacked delta-aminolevulinate synthase activity, hem2 mutants lacked delta-aminolevulinate dehydratase, and hem3 mutants uroporphyrin I synthase. Mutants in hem1, hem2, and hem3 had an additional requirement for methionine on synthetic medium supplemented with either heme or ergosterol and Tween 80, owing to a lack of sulfite reductase which contains siroheme, a modified uroporphyrin III. Since hem4 and hem5 mutants have sulfite reductase activity under all growth conditions, they are blocked after uroporphyrin III. Cell extracts of a hem4 mutant incubated with delta-aminolevulinate accumulated coproporphyrin III suggesting a block in coproporphyrinogenase, the enzyme which converts coproporphyrinogen III to protoporphyrinogen. Cells and extracts of a hem5 mutant accumulated protoporphyrin IX. Since it was the only mutant that grew on heme but not on protoporphyrin IX, a block in ferrochelatase was suggested for this strain. Mutant strains grown on heme had the sterol composition of wild type cells, whereas without heme only squalene, small amounts of lanosterol, and added sterol was observed. A heme product therefore participates in the transformation of lanosterol to ergosterol. A hem3 mutant was isolated which was also blocked between 2,3-oxidosqualene and lanosterol (erg12). When grown on lanosterol or ergosterol (with Tween 80) it accumulated a compound which was identified as 2,3-oxidosqualene by comparison with the synthetic compound in thin layer and gas-liquid chromatography, and by proton magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy. Supplementation with heme did not remove the requirement for sterol, but it enabled the mutant to convert lanosterol to ergosterol.
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