Zinc is an essential element for the normal growth, metabolism and physiology of yeast. Besides acting as a cofactor for many enzymes, zinc is also required for the structural stability of zinc finger proteins, many of which exert important controls on cellular metabolic processes. Although the effect of zinc on ethanol fermentation has previously been reported, the role of zinc on cellular stress tolerance is not well studied. In this review, the latest progress regarding the important roles of zinc and zinc containing proteins in yeast metabolism and cellular function, especially the recent findings demonstrating the involvement of zinc finger proteins in cellular stress responses, are summarized, with the focus on stress tolerance of yeast in the context of fuel ethanol production. An in-depth understanding of the status of zinc in the reprogramming of yeast metabolic network is vital for the breeding of robust yeast strains for ethanol fermentation, as well as for improved production efficiency of yeast-based bioindustry.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.