The sterol composition of membranes is known to influence many phenotypes of yeast. However, a systematic study of the relationship between sterol composition and stress resistances has not been conducted. Here, we therefore constructed single or double gene deletion mutants of the last four enzymes in ergosterol biosynthesis in a prototrophic genetic background of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Identification of the sterol composition of these mutants revealed a high flexibility of the sterol-processing steps instead of the previously proposed sequential conversion. Compared with the wild type, the mutants showed altered resistances to different exogenous stresses regarding the specific growth rate and duration of lag phase. The erg5 deletion mutant whose sterol has a saturated side chain exhibited overall robust growth under the tested stress conditions. The thermotolerant phenotype of erg5 deletion mutant was reproduced in filamentous fungus Penicillium oxalicum. These results highlight the important role of sterols in the response of yeast cells to environmental stresses, and suggest the possibility of improving the robustness of industrial yeast strains by engineering their sterol composition.
- Growth rate
- Membrane lipid