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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 1991;26(1):53-76.

The glucoamylase multigene family in Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus: an overview.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been used widely both as a model system for unraveling the biochemical, genetic, and molecular details of gene expression and the secretion process, and as a host for the production of heterologous proteins of biotechnological interest. The potential of starch as a renewable biological resource has stimulated research into amylolytic enzymes and the broadening of the substrate range of S. cerevisiae. The enzymatic hydrolysis of starch, consisting of linear (amylose) and branched glucose polymers (amylopectin), is catalyzed by alpha- and beta-amylases, glucoamylases, and debranching enzymes, e.g., pullulanases. Starch utilization in the yeast S. cerevisiae var. diastaticus depends on the expression of the three unlinked genes, STA1 (chr. IV), STA2 (chr. II), and STA3 (chr. XIV), each encoding one of the extracellular glycosylated glucoamylases isozymes GAI, GAII, or GAIII, respectively. The restriction endonuclease maps of STA1, STA2, and STA3 are identical. These genes are absent in S. cerevisiae, but a related gene, SGA1, encoding an intracellular, sporulation-specific glucoamylase (SGA), is present. SGA1 is homologous to the middle and 3' regions of the STA genes, but lacks a 5' sequence that encodes the domain for secretion of the extracellular glucoamylases. The STA genes are positively regulated by the presence of three GAM genes. In addition to positive regulation, the STA genes are regulated negatively at three levels. Whereas strains of S. diastaticus are capable of expressing the STA genes, most strains of S. cerevisiae contain STA10, whose presence represses the expression of the STA genes in an undefined manner. The STA genes are also repressed in diploid cells, presumably by the MATa/MAT alpha-encoded repressor. STA gene expression is reduced in liquid synthetic media, it is carbon catabolite repressed by glucose, and is inhibited in petite mutants.

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