Forward chemical genetics in yeast for discovery of chemical probes targeting metabolism

Molecules. 2012 Nov 5;17(11):13098-115. doi: 10.3390/molecules171113098.


The many virtues that made the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae a dominant model organism for genetics and molecular biology, are now establishing its role in chemical genetics. Its experimental tractability (i.e., rapid doubling time, simple culture conditions) and the availability of powerful tools for drug-target identification, make yeast an ideal organism for high-throughput phenotypic screening. It may be especially applicable for the discovery of chemical probes targeting highly conserved cellular processes, such as metabolism and bioenergetics, because these probes would likely inhibit the same processes in higher eukaryotes (including man). Importantly, changes in normal cellular metabolism are associated with a variety of diseased states (including neurological disorders and cancer), and exploiting these changes for therapeutic purposes has accordingly gained considerable attention. Here, we review progress and challenges associated with forward chemical genetic screening in yeast. We also discuss evidence supporting these screens as a useful strategy for discovery of new chemical probes and new druggable targets related to cellular metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor*
  • Glycolysis / drug effects
  • Glycolysis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / pharmacology
  • Methotrexate / pharmacology
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutagenesis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Phenotype
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Leucovorin
  • Methotrexate