Multiple means to the same end: the genetic basis of acquired stress resistance in yeast

PLoS Genet. 2011 Nov;7(11):e1002353. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002353. Epub 2011 Nov 10.


In nature, stressful environments often occur in combination or close succession, and thus the ability to prepare for impending stress likely provides a significant fitness advantage. Organisms exposed to a mild dose of stress can become tolerant to what would otherwise be a lethal dose of subsequent stress; however, the mechanism of this acquired stress tolerance is poorly understood. To explore this, we exposed the yeast gene-deletion libraries, which interrogate all essential and non-essential genes, to successive stress treatments and identified genes necessary for acquiring subsequent stress resistance. Cells were exposed to one of three different mild stress pretreatments (salt, DTT, or heat shock) and then challenged with a severe dose of hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)). Surprisingly, there was little overlap in the genes required for acquisition of H(2)O(2) tolerance after different mild-stress pretreatments, revealing distinct mechanisms of surviving H(2)O(2) in each case. Integrative network analysis of these results with respect to protein-protein interactions, synthetic-genetic interactions, and functional annotations identified many processes not previously linked to H(2)O(2) tolerance. We tested and present several models that explain the lack of overlap in genes required for H(2)O(2) tolerance after each of the three pretreatments. Together, this work shows that acquired tolerance to the same severe stress occurs by different mechanisms depending on prior cellular experiences, underscoring the context-dependent nature of stress tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Genetic Fitness / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Response / genetics*
  • Heat-Shock Response / physiology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / toxicity*
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics*


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Hydrogen Peroxide