Yeast genes involved in regulating cysteine uptake affect production of hydrogen sulfide from cysteine during fermentation

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An early burst of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) produced by Saccharomyces cerevisiae during fermentation could increase varietal thiols and therefore enhance desirable tropical aromas in varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc. Here we attempted to identify genes affecting H2S formation from cysteine by screening yeast deletion libraries via a colony colour assay on media resembling grape juice. Both Δlst4 and Δlst7 formed lighter coloured colonies and produced significantly less H2S than the wild type on high concentrations of cysteine, likely because they are unable to take up cysteine efficiently. We then examined the nine known cysteine permeases and found that deletion of AGP1, GNP1 and MUP1 led to reduced production of H2S from cysteine. We further showed that deleting genes involved in the SPS-sensing pathway such as STP1 and DAL81 also reduced H2S from cysteine. Together, this study indirectly confirms that Agp1p, Gnp1p and Mup1p are the major cysteine permeases and that they are regulated by the SPS-sensing and target of rapamycin pathways under the grape juice-like, cysteine-supplemented, fermentation conditions. The findings highlight that cysteine transportation could be a limiting factor for yeast to generate H2S from cysteine, and therefore selecting wine yeasts without defects in cysteine uptake could maximise thiol production potential.

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