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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1989 Feb; 55(2): 468–477.
PMCID: PMC184133

Enzymic analysis of the crabtree effect in glucose-limited chemostat cultures of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


The physiology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae CBS 8066 was studied in glucose-limited chemostat cultures. Below a dilution rate of 0.30 h-1 glucose was completely respired, and biomass and CO2 were the only products formed. Above this dilution rate acetate and pyruvate appeared in the culture fluid, accompanied by disproportional increases in the rates of oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production. This enhanced respiratory activity was accompanied by a drop in cell yield from 0.50 to 0.47 g (dry weight) g of glucose-1. At a dilution rate of 0.38 h-1 the culture reached its maximal oxidation capacity of 12 mmol of O2 g (dry weight)-1 h-1. A further increase in the dilution rate resulted in aerobic alcoholic fermentation in addition to respiration, accompanied by an additional decrease in cell yield from 0.47 to 0.16 g (dry weight) g of glucose-1. Since the high respiratory activity of the yeast at intermediary dilution rates would allow for full respiratory metabolism of glucose up to dilution rates close to mumax, we conclude that the occurrence of alcoholic fermentation is not primarily due to a limited respiratory capacity. Rather, organic acids produced by the organism may have an uncoupling effect on its respiration. As a result the respiratory activity is enhanced and reaches its maximum at a dilution rate of 0.38 h-1. An attempt was made to interpret the dilution rate-dependent formation of ethanol and acetate in glucose-limited chemostat cultures of S. cerevisiae CBS 8066 as an effect of overflow metabolism at the pyruvate level. Therefore, the activities of pyruvate decarboxylase, NAD+- and NADP+-dependent acetaldehyde dehydrogenases, acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) synthetase, and alcohol dehydrogenase were determined in extracts of cells grown at various dilution rates. From the enzyme profiles, substrate affinities, and calculated intracellular pyruvate concentrations, the following conclusions were drawn with respect to product formation of cells growing under glucose limitation. (i) Pyruvate decarboxylase, the key enzyme of alcoholic fermentation, probably already is operative under conditions in which alcoholic fermentation is absent. The acetaldehyde produced by the enzyme is then oxidized via acetaldehyde dehydrogenases and acetyl-CoA synthetase. The acetyl-CoA thus formed is further oxidized in the mitochondria. (ii) Acetate formation results from insufficient activity of acetyl-CoA synthetase, required for the complete oxidation of acetate. Ethanol formation results from insufficient activity of acetaldehyde dehydrogenases.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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