Construction of a self-cloning sake yeast that overexpresses alcohol acetyltransferase gene by a two-step gene replacement protocol

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The commercial application of genetically modified industrial microorganisms has been problematic due to public concerns. We constructed a “self-cloning” sake yeast strain that overexpresses the ATF1 gene encoding alcohol acetyltransferase, to improve the flavor profile of Japanese sake. A constitutive yeast overexpression promoter, TDH3p, derived from the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene from sake yeast was fused to ATF1; and the 5′ upstream non-coding sequence of ATF1 was further fused to TDH3p-ATF1. The fragment was placed on a binary vector, pGG119, containing a drug-resistance marker for transformation and a counter-selection marker for excision of unwanted DNA. The plasmid was integrated into the ATF1 locus of a sake yeast strain. This integration constructed tandem repeats of ATF1 and TDH3p-ATF1 sequences, between which the plasmid was inserted. Loss of the plasmid, which occurs through homologous recombination between either the TDH3p downstream ATF1 repeats or the TDH3p upstream repeat sequences, was selected by growing transformants on counter-selective medium. Recombination between the downstream repeats led to reversion to a wild type strain, but that between the upstream repeats resulted in a strain that possessed TDH3p-ATF1 without the extraneous DNA sequences. The self-cloning TDH3p-ATF1 yeast strain produced a higher amount of isoamyl acetate. This is the first expression-controlled self-cloning industrial yeast.

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