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J Bacteriol. 1977 Aug;131(2):564-71.

Permeability of the cell envelope and osmotic behavior in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


Bakers' yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) was equilibrated with distilled water and then packed into standardized pellets by centrifugation. The fractional space (S value) that was accessible to passive permeation was probed with a variety of mono- and divalent salts, mono- and disaccharides, polyols, substrates and products of beta-fructofuranosidase (EC and acid phosphatase (EC, and a cross-linked polymer of sucrose (Ficoll 400). A simple but very reproducible method was developed to measure pellet volume. At the limit of zero osmolality for bathing medium, the interstitial space was 0.223 ml/ml of pellet, and the aqueous volume of cell envelopes was 0.117 ml/ml of pellet. Thus the cell envelope for this yeast, under these conditions, was approximately 15% of the total cell volume. At a finite osmolality, the space in a yeast pellet that was accessible to salt was accounted for by the sum of initial interstitial space, the volume of the cell envelopes, and the volume of water abstracted from the cells by osmosis. Plots of S value versus osmolality were linear for uncharged probes and curvilinear for all salts. When Ficoll and potassium thiocyanate were presented to the yeast in admixture, the S values for the salt increased continuously over the range of osmolality studied. However, the S values for Ficoll 400 (which did not penetrate the cell wall) were lower by an amount equilivalent to the cell envelopes; they increased in parallel with the S curve for salt up to 1.15 osmol/kg and then plateaued. The results support the concept of incipient plasmolysis at 1.15 osmol/kg, and the separation of protoplasm from the cell wall is indicated with more concentrated solutions. Such cells were still viable if slowly diluted in distilled water, but they were injured by the shock of rapid dilution. However, shocking the cells did not release beta-fructofuranosidase into the medium. The complete accessibility of salts toward killed cells was demonstrated with yeast that had been pretreated with heat, organic solvents, or glutaraldehyde.

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