Galactose Metabolism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

David J. Timson

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Galactose is metabolised to the more metabolically useful glucose 6-phosphate by the enzymes of the Leloir pathway. This pathway is necessary as the initial enzymes of glycolysis are unable to recognise galactose. In most organisms, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, five enzymes are required to catalyse the conversion: galactose mutarotase, galactokinase, galactose 1-phosphate uridyltransferase, UDP-galactose 4-epimerase and phosphoglucomutase. The pathway has attracted interest in S. cerevisiae as it is under very strict genetic control and thus provides an excellent model for the study of gene expression in eukaryotes. In the presence of glucose the genes encoding the Leloir pathway enzymes (the GAL genes) are completely repressed through the action of a transcription factor Mig1p. Only in the presence of galactose and the absence of glucose do the concerted actions of Gal4p, Gal80p and Gal3p enable the rapid and high level activation of the GAL genes. The exact mechanism of action of these three proteins is controversial. Galactose metabolism in S. cerevisiae is also of interest because it can be exploited both in the laboratory (for high level expression of heterologous proteins and in the yeast two hybrid screen) and industrially (increasing flux through the Leloir pathway in order to make more efficient use of feedstocks with high galactose content). Recent work on the structures of the various proteins, their mechanisms of action and attempts to gain an integrated understanding of transcriptional and metabolic events will assist our understanding of both the fundamental biochemical processes and how these might be exploited commercially.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-73
Number of pages11
JournalDynamic Biochemistry, Process Biotechnology and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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