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J Biosci Bioeng. 2004;98(2):107-13.

Effect of cellular inositol content on ethanol tolerance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in sake brewing.

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General Research Laboratory of Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Co., Ltd., 1-8-6 Uozaki-nishimachi, Higashinada-ku, Kobe, 658-0026, Japan.


The effect of cellular inositol content on the ethanol tolerance of sake yeast was investigated. In a static culture of strain K901 in a synthetic medium, when cells were grown in the presence of inositol in limited amount (L-cells), the inositol content of cells decreased by one-third that of cells grown in the presence of inositol in sufficient amount (H-cells). L-cells exhibited a higher death rate constant than H-cells in the presence of 12-20% ethanol, while no difference in specific ethanol production rate in the presence of 0-18% ethanol between the two cell types was observed. L-cells leaked more intracellular components, such as nucleotides, phosphate and potassium, in the presence of ethanol than H-cells. L-cells exhibited a lower intracellular pH value than H-cells, which represented the lowering of cell vitality by the decrease in H(+) extrusion activity. Furthermore, the plasma membrane H(+)-ATPase activity of L-cells was approximately one-half of that of H-cells. Therefore, it was considered that the decrease in viability in the presence of ethanol due to inositol limitation results from the lowering of H(+)-ATPase activity, which maintains the permeability barrier of the yeast membrane, ensuring the homeostasis of ions in the cytoplasm of yeast cells. It is assumed that the lowering of H(+)-ATPase activity due to inositol limitation is caused by the change in lipid environment of the enzyme, which is affected by inositol-containing glycerophospholipids such as phosphatidylinositol (PI), because in the PI-saturated mixed micellar assay system, the difference in H(+)-ATPase activity between L- and H-cells disappeared. In the early stage of sake mash, inositol limitation lowers the ethanol tolerance due to the decrease in H(+)-ATPase activity as in static culture. In the final stage of sake mash, the disruption of the ino1 gene responsible for inositol synthesis, resulted in a decrease in cell density. Furthermore, the ino1 disruptant, which was not capable of increasing the cellular inositol level in the final stage, exhibited a significantly higher methylene blue-staining ratio than the parental strain. It was suggested that the yeast cellular inositol level is one of the important factors which contribute to the high ethanol tolerance implied by the increased cell viability in the presence of ethanol.

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