Respiratory metabolism plays an important role in energy production in the form of ATP in all aerobically growing cells. However, a limitation in respiratory capacity results in overflow metabolism, leading to the formation of byproducts, a phenomenon known as "overflow metabolism" or "the Crabtree effect." The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has served as an important model organism for studying the Crabtree effect. When subjected to increasing glycolytic fluxes under aerobic conditions, there is a threshold value of the glucose uptake rate at which the metabolism shifts from purely respiratory to mixed respiratory and fermentative. It is well known that glucose repression of respiratory pathways occurs at high glycolytic fluxes, resulting in a decrease in respiratory capacity. Despite many years of detailed studies on this subject, it is not known whether the onset of the Crabtree effect is due to limited respiratory capacity or is caused by glucose-mediated repression of respiration. When respiration in S. cerevisiae was increased by introducing a heterologous alternative oxidase, we observed reduced aerobic ethanol formation. In contrast, increasing nonrespiratory NADH oxidation by overexpression of a water-forming NADH oxidase reduced aerobic glycerol formation. The metabolic response to elevated alternative oxidase occurred predominantly in the mitochondria, whereas NADH oxidase affected genes that catalyze cytosolic reactions. Moreover, NADH oxidase restored the deficiency of cytosolic NADH dehydrogenases in S. cerevisiae. These results indicate that NADH oxidase localizes in the cytosol, whereas alternative oxidase is directed to the mitochondria.
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