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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Nov;69(11):6527-32.

Gene dosage effect of L-proline biosynthetic enzymes on L-proline accumulation and freeze tolerance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Department of Bioscience, Fukui Prefectural University, Fukui 910-1195, Japan.


We have previously reported that L-proline has cryoprotective activity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. A freeze-tolerant mutant with L-proline accumulation was recently shown to carry an allele of the PRO1 gene encoding gamma-glutamyl kinase, which resulted in a single amino acid substitution (Asp154Asn). Interestingly, this mutation enhanced the activities of gamma-glutamyl kinase and gamma-glutamyl phosphate reductase, both of which catalyze the first two steps of L-proline synthesis and which together may form a complex in vivo. Here, we found that the Asp154Asn mutant gamma-glutamyl kinase was more thermostable than the wild-type enzyme, which suggests that this mutation elevated the apparent activities of two enzymes through a stabilization of the complex. We next examined the gene dosage effect of three L-proline biosynthetic enzymes, including Delta(1)-pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase, which converts Delta(1)-pyrroline-5-carboxylate into L-proline, on L-proline accumulation and freeze tolerance in a non-L-proline-utilizing strain. Overexpression of the wild-type enzymes has no influence on L-proline accumulation, which suggests that the complex is very unstable in nature. However, co-overexpression of the mutant gamma-glutamyl kinase and the wild-type gamma-glutamyl phosphate reductase was effective for L-proline accumulation, probably due to a stabilization of the complex. These results indicate that both enzymes, not Delta(1)-pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase, are rate-limiting enzymes in yeast cells. A high tolerance for freezing clearly correlated with higher levels of L-proline in yeast cells. Our findings also suggest that, in addition to its cryoprotective activity, intracellular L-proline could protect yeast cells from damage by oxidative stress. The approach described here provides a valuable method for breeding novel yeast strains that are tolerant of both freezing and oxidative stresses.

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