Adaptation to altered osmotic conditions is a fundamental property of living cells and has been studied in detail in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast cells accumulate glycerol as compatible solute, controlled at different levels by the High Osmolarity Glycerol (HOG) response pathway. Up to now, essentially all osmostress studies in yeast have been performed with glucose as carbon and energy source, which is metabolised by glycolysis with glycerol as a by-product. Here we investigated the response of yeast to osmotic stress when yeast is respiring ethanol as carbon and energy source. Remarkably, yeast cells do not accumulate glycerol under these conditions and it appears that trehalose may partly take over the role as compatible solute. The HOG pathway is activated in very much the same way as during growth on glucose and is also required for osmotic adaptation. Slower volume recovery was observed in ethanol-grown cells as compared to glucose-grown cells. Dependence on key regulators as well as the global gene expression profile were similar in many ways to those previously observed in glucose-grown cells. However, there are indications that cells re-arrange redox-metabolism when respiration is hampered under osmostress, a feature that could not be observed in glucose-grown cells.
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