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OMICS. 2010 Oct;14(5):525-40. doi: 10.1089/omi.2010.0072.

Adaptive response and tolerance to weak acids in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: a genome-wide view.

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Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre for Biological and Chemical Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal.


Weak acids are widely used as food preservatives (e.g., acetic, propionic, benzoic, and sorbic acids), herbicides (e.g., 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), and as antimalarial (e.g., artesunic and artemisinic acids), anticancer (e.g., artesunic acid), and immunosuppressive (e.g., mycophenolic acid) drugs, among other possible applications. The understanding of the mechanisms underlying the adaptive response and resistance to these weak acids is a prerequisite to develop more effective strategies to control spoilage yeasts, and the emergence of resistant weeds, drug resistant parasites or cancer cells. Furthermore, the identification of toxicity mechanisms and resistance determinants to weak acid-based pharmaceuticals increases current knowledge on their cytotoxic effects and may lead to the identification of new drug targets. This review integrates current knowledge on the mechanisms of toxicity and tolerance to weak acid stress obtained in the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae using genome-wide approaches and more detailed gene-by-gene analysis. The major features of the yeast response to weak acids in general, and the more specific responses and resistance mechanisms towards a specific weak acid or a group of weak acids, depending on the chemical nature of the side chain R group (R-COOH), are highlighted. The involvement of several transcriptional regulatory networks in the genomic response to different weak acids is discussed, focusing on the regulatory pathways controlled by the transcription factors Msn2p/Msn4p, War1p, Haa1p, Rim101p, and Pdr1p/Pdr3p, which are known to orchestrate weak acid stress response in yeast. The extrapolation of the knowledge gathered in yeast to other eukaryotes is also attempted.

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