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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2000 Jan;24(1):67-83.

The role of ammonia metabolism in nitrogen catabolite repression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Unilever Research, Laboratorium Vlaardingen, Olivier van Noortlaan 120, 3133 AT, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae is able to use a wide variety of nitrogen sources for growth. Not all nitrogen sources support growth equally well. In order to select the best out of a large diversity of available nitrogen sources, the yeast has developed molecular mechanisms. These mechanisms consist of a sensing mechanism and a regulatory mechanism which includes induction of needed systems, and repression of systems that are not beneficial. The first step in use of most nitrogen sources is its uptake via more or less specific permeases. Hence the first level of regulation is encountered at this level. The next step is the degradation of the nitrogen source to useful building blocks via the nitrogen metabolic pathways. These pathways can be divided into routes that lead to the degradation of the nitrogen source to ammonia and glutamate, and routes that lead to the synthesis of nitrogen containing compounds in which glutamate and glutamine are used as nitrogen donor. Glutamine is synthesized out of ammonia and glutamate. The expression of the specific degradation routes is also regulated depending on the availability of a particular nitrogen source. Ammonia plays a central role as intermediate between degradative and biosynthetic pathways. It not only functions as a metabolite in metabolic reactions but is also involved in regulation of metabolic pathways at several levels. This review describes the central role of ammonia in nitrogen metabolism. This role is illustrated at the level of enzyme activity, translation and transcription.

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