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Folia Microbiol (Praha). 2008;53(1):3-14. doi: 10.1007/s12223-008-0001-6. Epub 2008 May 15.

Filament formation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae--a review.

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  • 1Cardiff School of Bioscences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF10 3TL, UK.


Many yeasts can produce filamentous elongated cells identifiable as hyphae, pseudohyphae or invasive filaments. Filament formation has been understood as a foraging response that occurs in nutrient-poor conditions. However, fusel alcohols were observed to induce filament formation in rich nutrient conditions in every yeast species examined. Fusel alcohols, e.g., 3-methyl-1-butanol (3Me-BuOH; 'isoamyl alcohol'), 2-methyl-1-propanol (isobutyl alcohol), (-)-2-methyl-1-butanol ('active amyl alcohol'), 2-phenylethanol and 3-(2-hydroxyethyl)indole (tryptophol) (the end products of leucine, valine, isoleucine, phenylalanine and tryptophan catabolism, respectively) are the end products of amino acid catabolism that accumulate when nutrients become limiting. Thus, yeast responds to its own metabolic by-products. Considerable effort was made to define the cell biological and biochemical changes that take place during 3Me-BuOH-induced filamentation. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae filaments contain significantly greater mitochondrial mass and increased chitin content in comparison with yeast-form cells. The global transcriptional response of S. cerevisiae during the early stages of 3Me-BuOH-induced filament formation has been described. Four ORFs displayed very significant (more than 10-fold) increases in their RNA species, and 12 ORFs displayed increases in transcription of more than 5-fold. The transcription of five genes (all of which encode transporters) decreased by similar amounts. Where examined, the activity of the proteins encoded reflected the transcriptional pattern of their respective mRNAs. To understand this regulation, studies were performed to see whether deletion or overexpression of key genes affects the ability to filament and invade solid YEPD medium. This has led to identification of those proteins that are essential for filament formation, repressors and those which are simply not required. It also leads to the conclusion that 3Me-BuOH-induced filament formation is not a foraging response but a response to reduced growth rate.

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