Mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae deficient in acyl-CoA synthetases secrete fatty acids due to interrupted fatty acid recycling

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In the present study, acyl-CoA synthetase mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were employed to investigate the impact of this activity on certain pools of fatty acids. We identified a genotype responsible for the secretion of free fatty acids into the culture medium. The combined deletion of Faa1p and Faa4p encoding two out of five acyl-CoA synthetases was necessary and sufficient to establish mutant cells that secreted fatty acids in a growth-phase dependent manner. The mutants accomplished fatty acid export during exponential growth-phase followed by fatty acid re-import into the cells during the stationary phase. The data presented suggest that the secretion is driven by an active component. The fatty acid re-import resulted in a severely altered ultrastructure of the mutant cells. Additional strains deficient of any cellular acyl-CoA synthetase activity revealed an almost identical phenotype, thereby proving transfer of fatty acids across the plasma membrane independent of their activation with CoA. Further experiments identified membrane lipids as the origin of the observed free fatty acids. Therefore, we propose the recycling of endogenous fatty acids generated in the course of lipid remodelling as a major task of both acyl-CoA synthetases Faa1p and Faa4p.

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