Glucose is the favoured carbon source for Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the Leloir pathway for galactose utilization is only induced in the presence of galactose during glucose-derepressed conditions. The goal of this study was to investigate the dynamics of glucose-galactose transitions. To this end, well-controlled, glucose-limited chemostat cultures were switched to galactose-excess conditions. Surprisingly, galactose was not consumed upon a switch to galactose excess under anaerobic conditions. However, the transcripts of the Leloir pathway were highly increased upon galactose excess under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Protein and enzyme-activity assays showed that impaired galactose consumption under anaerobiosis coincided with the absence of the Leloir-pathway proteins. Further results showed that absence of protein synthesis was not caused by glucose-mediated translation inhibition. Analysis of adenosine nucleotide pools revealed a fast decrease of the energy charge after the switch from glucose to galactose under anaerobic conditions. Similar results were obtained when glucose-galactose transitions were analysed under aerobic conditions with a respiratory-deficient strain. It is concluded that under fermentative conditions, the energy charge was too low to allow synthesis of the Leloir proteins. Hence, this study conclusively shows that the intracellular energy status is an important factor in the metabolic flexibility of S. cerevisiae upon changes in its environment.
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