ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The expression and activity of the different Saccharomyces cerevisiae hexose uptake systems (Hxt) and the kinetics of glucose uptake are considered essential to industrial alcoholic fermentation performance. However, the dynamics of glucose uptake kinetics during the different stages of fermentation, depending on glucose and nitrogen availability, is very poorly characterized. The objective of the present work was to examine thoroughly the alterations occurring in glucose uptake kinetics during alcoholic fermentation, by the wine strain S. cerevisiae PYCC 4072, of a synthetic grape juice basal medium with either a limiting or non-limiting initial nitrogen concentration and following nitrogen supplementation of the nitrogen-depleted sluggish fermentation. RESULTS: Independently of the initial concentration of the nitrogen source, glucose transport capacity is maximal during the early stages of fermentation and presumably sustained by the low-affinity and high-capacity glucose transporter Hxt1p. During nitrogen-limited sluggish fermentation, glucose uptake capacity was reduced to approximately 20% of its initial values (Vmax = 4.9 +/- 0.8 compared to 21.9 +/- 1.2 mumol h-1 10-8 cells), being presumably sustained by the low-affinity glucose transporter Hxt3p (considering the calculated Km = 39.2 +/- 8.6 mM). The supplementation of the sluggish fermentation broth with ammonium led to the increase of glucose transport capacity associated to the expression of different glucose uptake systems with low and high affinities for glucose (Km = 58.2 +/- 9.1 and 2.7 +/- 0.4 mM). A biclustering analysis carried out using microarray data, previously obtained for this yeast strain transcriptional response to equivalent fermentation conditions, indicates that the activation of the expression of genes encoding the glucose transporters Hxt2p (during the transition period to active fermentation) and Hxt3p, Hxt4p, Hxt6p and Hxt7p (during the period of active fermentation) may have a major role in the recovery of glucose uptake rate following ammonium supplementation. These results suggest a general derepression of the glucose-repressible HXT genes and are consistent with the downregulation of Mig1p and Rgt1p. CONCLUSIONS: Although reduced, glucose uptake rate during nitrogen-limited fermentation is not abrogated. Following ammonium supplementation, sluggish fermentation recovery is associated to the increase of glucose uptake capacity, related to the de novo synthesis of glucose transporters with different affinity for glucose and capacity, presumably of Hxt2p, Hxt3p, Hxt4p, Hxt6p and Hxt7p. This study is a contribution to the understanding of yeast response to different stages of alcoholic fermentation at the level of glucose uptake kinetics, in particular under nitrogen limitation or replenish, which is useful knowledge to guide fermentation practices.FAU - Palma, Margarid.
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