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FEMS Yeast Res. 2003 Dec;4(3):339-47.

Application of the reuseable, KanMX selectable marker to industrial yeast: construction and evaluation of heterothallic wine strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, possessing minimal foreign DNA sequences.

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School of Agriculture and Wine, The University of Adelaide, PMB 1, 5064, Glen Osmond, SA, Australia.


The characterisation of wine yeasts and the complex metabolic processes influencing wine fermentation and the quality of wine might best be achieved by exploiting the standard classical and recombinant genetic techniques which have been successfully used with laboratory strains. However, application of these techniques to industrial strains has been restricted because such strains are typically prototrophic and often polyploid. To overcome this problem, we have identified commercial wine strains with good mating and sporulation properties from which heterothallic derivatives were constructed by disruption of the HO gene. Consequently, these haploids are amenable to genetic analysis, whilst retaining desirable wine-making properties. The approach used was an adaptation of a previously published gene disruption procedure for laboratory yeast and is based on the acquisition of geneticin resistance from a removable KanMX marker. The present work is the first report of the application of a construct of this type to the disruption of the HO gene in wine yeasts that are in common commercial use. Most of the 4.9-kb disruption construct was successfully removed from the genome of the haploid derivative strains by loop-out of the KanMX marker through meiotic recombination. Sequencing of the HO region confirmed the reduction of foreign sequences to a 582-bp fragment comprised largely of a single direct repeat at the target gene. The removal of the active foreign gene (conferring antibiotic resistance) allows the application of other constructs based on the KanMX module without the need to resort to other selectable marker systems. Laboratory-scale fermentation trials typically showed minimal differences between the HO disruptants and the parental wine strains in terms of fermentation kinetics and formation of key metabolites.

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