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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Dec;75(24):7631-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01649-09. Epub 2009 Oct 23.

Resistance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to high concentrations of furfural is based on NADPH-dependent reduction by at least two oxireductases.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Systems Biology, HPT E77, Wolfgang-Pauli-Str. 16, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Biofuels derived from lignocellulosic biomass hold promises for a sustainable fuel economy, but several problems hamper their economical feasibility. One important problem is the presence of toxic compounds in processed lignocellulosic hydrolysates, with furfural as a key toxin. While Saccharomyces cerevisiae has some intrinsic ability to reduce furfural to the less-toxic furfuryl alcohol, higher resistance is necessary for process conditions. By comparing an evolved, furfural-resistant strain and its parent in microaerobic, glucose-limited chemostats at increasing furfural challenge, we elucidate key mechanism and the molecular basis of both natural and high-level furfural resistance. At lower concentrations of furfural, NADH-dependent oxireductases are the main defense mechanism. At furfural concentrations above 15 mM, however, (13)C-flux and global array-based transcript analysis demonstrated that the NADPH-generating flux through the pentose phosphate pathway increases and that NADPH-dependent oxireductases become the major resistance mechanism. The transcript analysis further revealed that iron transmembrane transport is upregulated in response to furfural. While these responses occur in both strains, high-level resistance in the evolved strain was based on strong induction of ADH7, the uncharacterized open reading frame (ORF) YKL071W, and four further, likely NADPH-dependent, oxireductases. By overexpressing the ADH7 gene and the ORF YKL071W, we inversely engineered significantly increased furfural resistance in the parent strain, thereby demonstrating that these two enzymes are key elements of the resistance phenotype.

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