Acetic acid plays a crucial role in the organoleptic balance of many fermented products. We have investigated the factors controlling the production of acetate by Saccharomyces cerevisiae during alcoholic fermentation by metabolic engineering of the enzymatic steps involved in its formation and its utilization. The impact of reduced pyruvate decarboxylase (PDC), limited acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ACDH), or increased acetoacetyl coenzyme A synthetase (ACS) levels in a strain derived from a wine yeast strain was studied during alcoholic fermentation. In the strain with the PDC1 gene deleted exhibiting 25% of the PDC activity of the wild type, no significant differences were observed in the acetate yield or in the amounts of secondary metabolites formed. A strain overexpressing ACS2 and displaying a four- to sevenfold increase in ACS activity did not produce reduced acetate levels. In contrast, strains with one or two disrupted copies of ALD6, encoding the cytosolic Mg(2+)-activated NADP-dependent ACDH and exhibiting 60 and 30% of wild-type ACDH activity, showed a substantial decrease in acetate yield (the acetate production was 75 and 40% of wild-type production, respectively). This decrease was associated with a rerouting of carbon flux towards the formation of glycerol, succinate, and butanediol. The deletion of ALD4, encoding the mitochondrial K(+)-activated NAD(P)-linked ACDH, had no effect on the amount of acetate formed. In contrast, a strain lacking both Ald6p and Ald4p exhibited a long delay in growth and acetate production, suggesting that Ald4p can partially replace the Ald6p isoform. Moreover, the ald6 ald4 double mutant was still able to ferment large amounts of sugar and to produce acetate, suggesting the contribution of another member(s) of the ALD family.
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