Decrease of H2O2 plasma membrane permeability during adaptation to H2O2 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

J Biol Chem. 2004 Feb 20;279(8):6501-6. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M311818200. Epub 2003 Nov 26.


Contrary to what is widely believed, recent published results show that H2O2 does not freely diffuse across biomembranes. The fast removal of H2O2 by antioxidant enzymes is able to generate a gradient if H2O2 is produced in a different compartment from that containing the enzymes (Antunes, F., and Cadenas, E. (2000) FEBS Lett. 475, 121-126). In this work, we extended these studies and tested whether an active regulation of biomembranes permeability characteristics is part of the cell response to oxidative stress. Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model, we showed that: (a) H2O2 gradients across the plasma membrane are formed upon exposure to external H2O2; (b) there is a correlation between the magnitude of the gradients and the resistance to H2O2; (c) there is not a correlation between the intracellular capacity to remove H2O2 and the resistance to H2O2; (d) the plasma membrane permeability to H2O2 decreases by a factor of two upon acquisition of resistance to this agent by pre-exposing cells either to nonlethal doses of H2O2 or to cycloheximide, an inhibitor of protein synthesis; and (e) erg3Delta and erg6Delta mutants, which have impaired ergosterol biosynthesis pathways, show higher plasma membrane permeability to H2O2 and are more sensitive to H2O2. Altogether, the regulation of the plasma membrane permeability to H2O2 emerged as a new mechanism by which cells respond and adapt to H2O2. The consequences of the results to cellular redox compartmentalization and to the origin and evolution of the eukaryotic cell are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology
  • Cytochrome-c Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Ergosterol / chemistry
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Permeability
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Spheroplasts / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors


  • Antioxidants
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Cycloheximide
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Cytochrome-c Peroxidase
  • Catalase
  • Ergosterol