Emergence of Phenotypically Distinct Subpopulations Is a Factor in Adaptation of Recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae under Glucose-Limited Conditions

Naia Risager Wright, Mathew M. Jessop-Fabre, Benjamin J. Sánchez, Tune Wulff, Christopher T. Workman, Nanna Petersen Rønnest, Nikolaus Sonnenschein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Cells cultured in a nutrient-limited environment can undergo adaptation, which confers improved fitness under long-term energy limitation. We have shown previously how a recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, producing a heterologous insulin product, under glucose-limited conditions adapts over time at the average population level. Here, we investigated this adaptation at the single-cell level by application of fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and showed that the following three apparent phenotypes underlie the adaptive response observed at the bulk level: (i) cells that drastically reduced insulin production (23%), (ii) cells with reduced enzymatic capacity in central carbon metabolism (46%), and (iii) cells that exhibited pseudohyphal growth (31%). We speculate that the phenotypic heterogeneity is a result of different mechanisms to increase fitness. Cells with reduced insulin productivity have increased fitness by reducing the burden of the heterologous insulin production, and the populations with reduced enzymatic capacity of the central carbon metabolism and pseudohyphal growth have increased fitness toward the glucose-limited conditions. The results highlight the importance of considering population heterogeneity when studying adaptation and evolution.

IMPORTANCE The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an attractive microbial host for industrial production and is used widely for manufacturing, e.g., pharmaceuticals. Chemostat cultivation mode is an efficient cultivation strategy for industrial production processes as it ensures a constant, well-controlled cultivation environment. Nevertheless, both the production of a heterologous product and the constant cultivation environment in the chemostat impose a selective pressure on the production organism, which may result in adaptation and loss of productivity. The exact mechanisms behind the observed adaptation and loss of performance are often unidentified. We used a recombinant S. cerevisiae strain producing heterologous insulin and investigated the adaptation occurring during chemostat growth at the single-cell level. We showed that three apparent phenotypes underlie the adaptive response observed at the bulk level in the chemostat. These findings highlight the importance of considering population heterogeneity when studying adaptation in industrial bioprocesses.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0230721
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume88
Issue number7
Number of pages16
ISSN0099-2240
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Population heterogeneity
  • Heterologous protein production
  • Saccharomyces cerevisae
  • Chemostat cultivation
  • Proteomics
  • Flow cymetry

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