One of the stress conditions that yeast may encounter is the presence of acetaldehyde. In a previous study we identified that, in response to this stress, several HSP genes are induced that are also involved in the response to other forms of stress. Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) play an important role in yeast acetaldehyde metabolism (e.g. when cells are growing in ethanol). In this work we analyse the expression of the genes encoding these enzymes (ALD) and also the corresponding enzymatic activities under several growth conditions. We investigate three kinds of yeast strains: laboratory strains, strains involved in the alcoholic fermentation stage of wine production and flor yeasts (responsible for the biological ageing of sherry wines). The latter are very important to consider because they grow in media containing high ethanol concentrations, and produce important amounts of acetaldehyde. Under several growth conditions, further addition of acetaldehyde or ethanol in flor yeasts induced the expression of some ALD genes and led to an increase in ALDH activity. This result is consistent with their need to obtain energy from ethanol during biological ageing processes. Our data also suggest that post-transcriptional and/or post-translational mechanisms are involved in regulating the activity of these enzymes. Finally, analyses indicate that the Msn2/4p and Hsf1p transcription factors are necessary for HSP26, ALD2/3 and ALD4 gene expression under acetaldehyde stress, while PKA represses the expression of these genes.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.