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Internalization of Heterologous Sugar Transporters by Endogenous α-Arrestins in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae


When expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using either of two constitutive yeast promoters (PGK1prom and CCW12prom), the transporters CDT-1 and CDT-2 from the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa are able to catalyze, respectively, active transport and facilitated diffusion of cellobiose (and, for CDT-2, also xylan and its derivatives). In S. cerevisiae, endogenous permeases are removed from the plasma membrane by clathrin-mediated endocytosis and are marked for internalization through ubiquitinylation catalyzed by Rsp5, a HECT class ubiquitin:protein ligase (E3). Recruitment of Rsp5 to specific targets is mediated by a 14-member family of endocytic adaptor proteins, termed α-arrestins. Here we demonstrate that CDT-1 and CDT-2 are subject to α-arrestin-mediated endocytosis, that four α-arrestins (Rod1, Rog3, Aly1, and Aly2) are primarily responsible for this internalization, that the presence of the transport substrate promotes transporter endocytosis, and that, at least for CDT-2, residues located in its C-terminal cytosolic domain are necessary for its efficient endocytosis. Both α-arrestin-deficient cells expressing CDT-2 and otherwise wild-type cells expressing CDT-2 mutants unresponsive to α-arrestin-driven internalization exhibit an increased level of plasma membrane-localized transporter compared to that of wild-type cells, and they grow, utilize the transport substrate, and generate ethanol anaerobically better than control cells.


Ethanolic fermentation of the breakdown products of plant biomass by budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae remains an attractive biofuel source. To achieve this end, genes for heterologous sugar transporters and the requisite enzyme(s) for subsequent metabolism have been successfully expressed in this yeast. For one of the heterologous transporters examined in this study, we found that the amount of this protein residing in the plasma membrane was the rate-limiting factor for utilization of the cognate carbon source (cellobiose) and its conversion to ethanol.

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