During ethanol fermentation, yeast cells are exposed to stress due to the accumulation of ethanol, cell growth is altered and the output of the target product is reduced. For Agave beverages, like tequila, no reports have been published on the global gene expression under ethanol stress. In this work, we used microarray analysis to identify Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes involved in the ethanol response. Gene expression of a tequila yeast strain of S. cerevisiae (AR5) was explored by comparing global gene expression with that of laboratory strain S288C, both after ethanol exposure. Additionally, we used two different culture conditions, cells grown in Agave tequilana juice as a natural fermentation media or grown in yeast-extract peptone dextrose as artificial media. Of the 6368 S. cerevisiae genes in the microarray, 657 genes were identified that had different expression responses to ethanol stress due to strain and/or media. A cluster of 28 genes was found over-expressed specifically in the AR5 tequila strain that could be involved in the adaptation to tequila yeast fermentation, 14 of which are unknown such as yor343c, ylr162w, ygr182c, ymr265c, yer053c-a or ydr415c. These could be the most suitable genes for transforming tequila yeast to increase ethanol tolerance in the tequila fermentation process. Other genes involved in response to stress (RFC4, TSA1, MLH1, PAU3, RAD53) or transport (CYB2, TIP20, QCR9) were expressed in the same cluster. Unknown genes could be good candidates for the development of recombinant yeasts with ethanol tolerance for use in industrial tequila fermentation.
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